Why Hollywood Can't Crack the 'Nutcracker' Story

The Wrap


Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” opened to a paltry $20.4 million ($58.5 million worldwide) last weekend, a box office bomb given its production budget of $130 million. But it is far from the first time a version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet has failed financially — and critically.

So why can’t Hollywood get “The Nutcracker” right? TheWrap spoke with three box office experts to find out.

But lets start with the sordid box office history of “The Nutcracker” on the big screen:

In 2010, Freestyle Releasing put out “The Nutcracker in 3D,” starring Elle Fanning, Richard Philipps and Richard E. Grant. It grossed only $195,000 (from 45 locations) its opening weekend, and was widely panned by critics. (TheWrap’s own Alonso Duralde recently recalled the film “defiled” the work of Tchaikovsky, having taken “the classic story and ballet and added Holocaust metaphors, Tim Rice-penned hip-hop lyrics, and a bizarre turn by Nathan Lane as Albert Einstein.”)

Before that was “The Nutcracker,” released by Warner Bros. in 1993. It grossed just $2.2 million its opening weekend and received mixed reviews. Similarly, 1986’s “Nutcracker: The Motion Picture,” 1990’s “The Nutcracker Prince” and 1998’s “The IMAX Nutcracker” all underperformed at the box office.  

Experts who spoke with TheWrap pointed to one main reason why Hollywood hasn’t been able to crack “The Nutcracker” tale: The films stray too far away from the subject matter of the classic ballet.