Why “We Are Your Friends” tanked in the Box Office
“We Are Your Friends” was always going to be a hit-or-miss movie. With controversy surrounding leading up to it’s opening in theatre’s a few days ago, it was going to be interesting how a movie about the current electronic music trend was going to pan out.
As many expected, its reception did not receive good feedback, to put it mildly. In fact, the ‘DJ movie’ is ranked as the 4th worst opening weekend for a US release. So more of a miss than a hit to say the least.
With a budget of $6 million, “We Are Your Friends” only brought in a pretty dire $1.6 million on debut, questioning the extend of DJ’s popularity. Becoming a bit of a nightmare for its producers, Jeff Goldstein (Executive Vice President of Warner Bros. distribution) stated:
“We’re disappointed…(but) we believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his.“
Reasons for its failure:
To understand why the movie was such a disaster on debut, the plot synopsis gives a fair bit of insight.
Cole, a 23-year-old DJ (Zac Efron) enjoys hanging out with friends during the day. At night, he loves playing at small parties, and hopes to produce the track that will see him rise to superstar status within the industry. To do so, he collaborates with his new girlfriend (Emily Ratajowski). His dreams suddenly seems to become possible when he meets James, a well-known DJ, who decides to help him and give him an opportunity in the industry.
Yet, with this the electronic music so central to its theme and appeal appears to be largely neglected, with producers opting for greater focus on the Hollywood romance and celebrity characters.
Playboy journalist Nicole Theodore asked real DJs including Mr Black, Jayceeoh, Kennedy Jones, Getter, Donslens and Josh Jacobson to accompany her to the movie with her, interested to see their reactions. With a consensus reflecting Kennedy Jones’ bold statement of “a 10 on the bullshit scale“, the movie clearly didn’t favour well with the professionals. Jayceeoh even went on to vent his frustration at the implied message to enter the industry:
“Going into it I knew it was gonna be a joke to someone like myself. I have been making music/DJing for years to get to the point I am now. So when the trailer tag lines were, ‘All you need is a laptop, a little talent,’ and ‘one song and you can become a huge DJ,’ I knew this movie was gonna be bullshit”
— KENNEDY JONES (@KennedyJonesTHO) August 31, 2015
With Kennedy Jones feeling Zac Efron lacked any evidence of emerging himself into the industry to play a convincing role, there’s not much silver lining at all for the movie:
“The writers made it more than obvious that they just wanted to capitalize on what they view as nothing more than just a popular current trend and hoped that a pretty boy would sell a terrible movie. They failed. Miserably. Sadly, so did Zac. When a great actor takes on a role, they investigate the actual person they are supposedly portraying. They dive into the world they are supposed to be creating in the movie. It seems like dude literally laid in his trailer on set with his homies doing whatever Zac Efron does, learned some lines off a piece of paper and pretty much just walked on set, said the lines and left.“
Even with its dull synopsis, it is fair to have expected a larger box office taking and audience. For interested people who wanted to know more about DJ industry, “We Are Your Friends” had the opportunity to give insight and help build an increasingly reputable industry.
The fact Warner Bros chose a minimal, simplistic marketing strategy is also a big influence. By not customising it to the intended audience, to the extent where creative promotion at events like Ultra or EDC could have involved a named stage or even inviting Zac Efron to appear on stage when some of the movie soundtrack’s track were played. Such a promotion could have been of benefit, and helped not make it the 4th worst debut box office in the US.
And just to add to the fire, the release date wasn’t exactly perfect. With big events during school holidays, deciding to release the movie right before school commenced for a new semester/term, doesn’t seem well-timed for one of the movies intended audience age-groups. Releasing it when students were on holiday and had the time and incentive to watch a movie would have been more timely – surely?
So here’s hoping the industry gets another a chance to show the world what it’s actually like. Whether a blockbuster or documentary, a keen eye and genuine insight for what the movie appeals to and represents is needed in order to avoid being on the ‘worst openings of all time’ list.
For those who didn’t watch it yet, here’s the trailer :