Metallica at $15 Million Loss With 'Through the Never' After Three Weeks

Film scores concert movie records, but flops in general.

Ultimate Guitar

After its third weekend in theaters, Metallica's "Through the Never" 3D film earned just over $3.1 million at domestic box offices, turning the movie into a major financial loss for the band. Although Box Office Mojo info doesn't include foreign box offices data, the initial budget of $18 million makes Metallica around $15 million short from breaking even. With $1.67 million first-weekend earnings, the movie scored highest concert film earnings in IMAX history. As Metal Sucks reports, the given amount also doesn't cover the promotional spending, which often doubles the basic budget. So according to the same source, it cost the band around $36 million for the movie to make the market, which is over 10 times its total gross so far. But whichever the case might be, Metallica was likely expecting it. Band members themselves have mentioned that they'd be lucky to break even on numerous occasions, with frontman James Hetfield jokingly saying that some of the movie bills will be passed down to their children. "I think nowadays in media it's very much, 'What did it cost? What did they get back? Was it a success? Was it a failure?'" drummer Lars Ulrich told the Quietus. "It's slightly more complicated than that, and that kind of breaking it down to absolutes really doesn't interest me." "Through the Never" was premiered in IMAX theaters on September 27 and then rolled out to regular 3D cinemas on October 4. Do you see this as a clear flop or are there other nuances that should be taken into consideration? Let us know in the comments.

141 comments sorted by best / new / date

    As long as the musical performance itself was good I'm not phased at all. Nor does Metallica seem phased either. They had the money and low expectations, still made a good show/movie? All that matters to me personally. Just my opinion.
    Actually, it's totally justified.. If you consider the audience, there would be just a small fraction of the world's collection of Movie Buffs who like Metal as well.. Also there are normal metalheads who may have taken the effort to go to watch the movie.. But that's it. Other than this minority, not many others can actually appreciate the movie.. But I'm sure given time, it will make up the difference...
    It was okay. I was at the filming and a lot of retries were required, especially for Lars. He dumbed down some of his own material, too, but sonically it was fine despite that.
    Saw the film a few days ago. I think it is very cool. In my opinion, the biggest problem is the price for the theatre. I had to pay 16€ (~20$). If it were a little bit cheaper, I would see it twice
    wow 16 € ? Ive payd 9 € and that even that was too much, regular IMAX movies in 3D cost 6 € around here, this was exception, dont know why... but 16 € ? where are you from ?
    yeah, i payed around 14€, but have to say it was worth every cent.
    Not surprised in the slightest...
    Wow kinda surprised, with all the hype surrounding this movie
    No surprise as people who listen to metal music are just a fraction of all listeners. Pair that with the fact that people who go to movies that might like metal are also a sub section of all movie buffs....should not be surprised...
    nah that's just pocket change to them
    Sammy Mantis
    I'm sure it won't break their banks, but no one is going to be happy about being 15 million in the red, no matter how much money you have. Hopefully this sends a message to the boys in Metallica.
    Carl Hungus
    It will eventually make its money back. Its just going to take a few years. If they own the distribution rights, which I believe they do, then 100% of the Blu Ray and DVD sales will go to them. This movie could have a second life on video.
    A message to do what? "Sell out" and make albums with mass-market appeal?
    Metallica has mass market appeal. They're the biggest band in rock/metal.
    to make some decent music again. I don't expect another master of puppets or another black album for that matter, nor do I expect metal from them, I just want some decent written music again.
    Are u implying death magnetic was a bad album and poorly written. If so sir you have NO idea what your talking about.
    Can anyone tell me, what the hell was in that damned bag?!
    They'll make it up in DVD/ Blu-Ray Sales. I'm kinda surprised it wasn't a direct-to-dvd movie.
    Yep. According to wikipedia, S&M sold 600,000 DVDs in the US alone. They'll be making back their money.
    I saw the movie in the cinema. If you don't have a 3D home cinema at home I don't see much of a point in getting a DVD/Blu-ray. P.S. The movie is awesome on the big screen, go watch it, now!
    This might be me personally, but going to see a movie about a band feels kinda odd, even if the tickets are a few bucks and you couldnt make it to a show / none near you.Unless you manage to start a moshpit in the theater and get a whole crowd of people acting like their at a concert, sitting watching a screen with basically a 1 - 2 hr long music video with alot of people in a quite room seems a little weird
    If you're over 40 with a demanding job like my uncle, huge Metallica fan, you're not getting into any moshpits any time soon.
    Nero Galon
    Kinda this, might be me being traditional and conventional but I don't see it being a common thing in the future, especially if it isn't making profits.
    Saw it last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While they might take a loss, I applaud them for yet again taking a risk.
    I loved it. The concert parts were very well performed and recorded, and even though everyone hates hearing it, just sit back and take the story parts at face value. It was good ride.
    As Nelson from The Simpsons says: "Ha ha!" Make a new record already and stop milking the cash out of music we've already been listening to for 30 years. "Death Magnetic" came out 5 years ago. It's time to put out something actually worth caring about, instead of another live version of "Master of Puppets" around a film that Metallica themselves didn't even understand.
    Have you noticed? They can't make good records anymore. Milking their past success is all they've got.
    As much as I liked concert part of the movie , I think the movie would be better in "The Wall" format meaning more plot, more connection with music. Metallica has enough strong lyrical songs to tell a story.
    Yeah, I agree (although I haven't seen through the never yet). I think that Metallica have enough story driven songs that you could take a few from each album (the first four especially) and make a continuing narrative based off them. It could also be an animated film even, in the same vein as the original heavy metal film.
    Yea, because Metallica only exists in America. Man, they sell out stadiums all over the world, obviously they didn't have a 15 million loss. They did have loss but not that much...
    So far. There will be the non 3d cinema release, the dvd release and the blu-ray releases. The dvd and blu-ray releases will sell a lot, most people will buy then if they like metallica. They may not break even but it will definitely sell well.
    in my country Through the never was shown only one week in IMAX, and it was fully loaded with people, i guess it is success, and i liked the movie too)
    I was worried about it being sold out. We went to see it in IMAX on the 5th night of the release (Wednesday) and there were around 10 people in the theater, including the three in my party. I wasn't let down by the movie, but by the attendance. I really wanted to chant DIE! DIE! DIE! during Creeping Death, but it felt a bit silly with that few people around us. I know I shouldn't care, but it's just not the same.
    I was at a midnight premiere where Kirk showed up to talk for a few minutes to the audience, it was packed, and not a soul was chanting "die" during Creeping Death, there was an air of "we're watching a movie, not at a concert" so nobody was singing or anything, which i kind of appreciated, i went there to hear their show in IMAX, and the mix was incredible! was not disappointed
    Of course it's down on money!!! There has been like ONE theatre to see it in the ENTIRE state of Wisconsin! And not even in the most populated city!
    Hopefully spending 36 million bucks on a project they knew (and frequently publicly acknowledged) was going to tank will go some way to silence the 'zomg metlica only care abowt moniez 111' brigade.
    Regardless of the financial side, the film is great. It is something that no-one had ever done, and they managed to execute it brilliantly. That is the real Metallica - making exciting stuff for themselves and for the fans. So the film is definitely not a flop. The fans like it and that is success. Besides, they're gonna make a new record the next year, and that will probably compensate for the film.
    Maybe this'll show them that this sort of stuff isn't really what the fans will be drawn to...I would've seen it if it wasn't a super exclusive certain couple of days at certain select theaters in certain cities. It'll probably make more money back with DVD/Blu-ray sales, though. The loss will hardly make a dent in them, though
    I don't care if the movie rocked or not, all I care about i that they put on an Awesome concert
    The movie isn't projected at my town's theatre .. so unfortunally I'm not gonna see it, and I think I'm not the only one who have this problem.
    Americans: not caring about going into debt since ever
    Metallica did this as a means of artistic expression and because they felt like it. Its also why they recorded an album as Lou Reed's backing band: Because they felt like it. Metallica aren't the "sellouts" everyone always seems to think they are. They just have tons of money to do whatever the hell they want.
    waiting for the "people downloaded it instead of seeing it in the cinema" excuse
    Yabba Who
    "Although Box Office Mojo info doesn't include foreign box offices data..." That line makes this entire article irrelevant.
    Actually, it's totally justified.. If you consider the audience, there would be just a small fraction of the world's collection of Movie Buffs who like Metal as well.. Also there are normal metalheads who may have taken the effort to go to watch the movie.. But that's it. Other than this minority, not many others can actually appreciate the movie.. But I'm sure given time, it will make up the difference...
    It's a shame, because from what I've heard it's actually a pretty good production (going to see it tomorrow). It probably just doesn't appeal to a large enough demographic to be successful on the big screen.
    To all Metallica fanboys: wait for the movie to be available for illegal download and give the money you were going to spend seeing it at the cinema or on blu-ray to charity. There are more important things than 'supporting' a band by buying their album or t-shirt.
    This will be released on dvd & blu ray just in time for Christmas. Great stocking stuffer. They'll make their money back.
    See, 3 million in the toilet. Lars could of spent that money to get hair transplants
    Woah I stand corrected! 15 million! Holy s**t!!!! They could of spent that on starving kids around the world...HIV research...cancer...ALS...stem cell reserach....but NO, they spend it on a ridiculous "movie" with them half-assing their classic songs and some youtube sfx guy doing the production
    DVD sales and international box office will have an impact. But in any event, I doubt profit was the motive for doing this. Metallica are at a place in their career where they don't need every *single* project to generate revenue. Royalties, touring revenue, and merchandise make it certain that the band never needs to have another commercial success in order to hang on to their lavish Marin County estates. This movie was for the time capsule, and it is excellent for what it is -- a fine piece of fan service.
    Christ, it looks like Orion Music + More will only have one guy handling the hundreds of will-call pickups for all of Day 1 again...
    Not surprised. They'll make far more than that on DVD/Blu Ray sales.
    too many movies and DVDs.. they got greedy and it backfired. I'm glad.
    Agreed. This is their 3rd live release since their last album. It's ridiculous.
    They knew it would not make money, made it anyway, and you call them greedy. yet somehow, you managed to work a computer.
    Good, glad it is a dud, now Mr arty farty Ulrich can go hide in a corner so the rest of the band can concentrate on releasing music, not movies.
    Im kinda glad it hasnt done too well as maybe they will focus on a new album now.I buy most of their live dvds but the setlists never really change and new material would be most welcome.
    So just because a release didn't made box office in the lame states of america, it becomes a failure? LOL
    Sammy Mantis
    Good. Hope this blows up in their faces, because it was a pretty dumb idea right off the bat. What's next, a broadway show based on Lulu? Quit bullshitting around and make music.
    How about you actually watch it before you jump to conclusions? It was incredible and their playing was the best i've heard since seattle '89
    Considering that they are cumulatively worth about 450 million, 15 million is pocket change. And don't forget that a lot of their most rabid fans are from overseas markets like Mexico and South America, where the response will be much better. Considering how much the Blu-Ray is going to sell when it finally comes out, and possible future TV broadcast rights, they are looking at a healthy profit.
    I'm not really sure why they didn't just release this on dvd. It would seem that it would be cheaper to make a bunch of dvds than to put it in theaters. /shrug For the most part, people don't go to movie theaters to see films like "Through the Never".