Pop Goes The News — We Are Your Friends didn’t find many fans on its opening weekend, finishing in 13th place with only $1.8 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada.
Set in the world of electronic dance music and starring Zac Efron, it had the second worst opening in 30 years for a new live action movie in wide release — behind 2012’s Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure.
“We’re disappointed,” Warner Bros. executive Jeff Goldstein told Variety. “We believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his.”
In We Are Your Friends, Efron plays a struggling DJ with dreams of becoming a big time record producer. His life gets complicated when he falls for his mentor’s girlfriend.
We Are Your Friends, which had a per-screen average of only $772, is Efron’s 11th of 14 live action movies not to open in first place.
Only five of these have gone on to gross more than $100 million worldwide.
So, is Efron box office poison? Not exactly.
According to Box Office Mojo, Efron’s average domestic gross is currently $54 million — ahead of Canadian heartthrobs Ryan Reynolds ($45 million) and Ryan Gosling ($23 million) but well behind veteran Tom Cruise ($99 million) and Efron’s Canadian Neighbors co-star Seth Rogen ($92.5 million).
Three movies in which Efron is part of an ensemble cast have done well: 2007’s made-in-Ontario Hairspray, 2008’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year and 2011’s New Year’s Eve grossed a combined $597.5 million worldwide.
Neighbors, the 2014 comedy in which he shared top billing with Rogen, earned a solid $268 million after opening in the No. 1 spot.
Where Efron has failed is with movies where he’s promoted as the star.
His first leading role was in 2009’s 17 Again, a comedy that opened at No. 1 and went on to make a respectable $136.3 million. It was Efron’s third time playing a high school student on the big screen and likely got a boost from HSM fans.
Efron’s adult roles have been less successful.
The 2009 film Me and Orson Welles earned a paltry $2.3 million and the 2010 made-in-Vancouver drama Charlie St. Cloud opened in fifth place and went on to make only $48 million.
Liberal Arts, At Any Price and Parkland made $1.4 million combined.
Audiences also don’t seem to accept Efron as a romantic leading man.
The 2012 love story The Lucky One made only $99 million and The Paperboy opposite Nicole Kidman delivered just $1.4 million.
Efron was one of three lead actors in the 2014 comedy That Awkward Moment, which debuted in third place and collected only $40.5 million worldwide.
To be fair, there are many reasons We Are Your Friends flopped. Although aimed at people under 25, it opened on the weekend before Labour Day when students are settling into colleges and universities and high schoolers are spending their money at end-of-summer fairs.
The EDM community was also quick to trash the movie.
Josh Mayer, known as Ooah, tweeted: “wow I think Im gonna puke, quit & move to the most remote place where ‘edm’ doesn’t exist after watching ‘we are your friends’ trailer. sad.”
Music producer Matan Zohar (aka Mat Zo) opined: “Watching this trailer for ‘We are your friends’ makes me feel like a mayan watching the spanish fleet approaching.”
BELOW: Watch the trailer for We Are Your Friends.