Zac Efron’s ‘We Are Your Friends’ Tanks
We Are Your Friends stars Efron as a young DJ trying to break into the EDM scene and become a music producer. Wes Bentley and Emily Ratajkowski also star in the film, which earned middling reviews and a C+ CinemaScore from audiences. Tracking had suggested We Are Your Friends would open to at least $8 million. But Zac Efron’s electronic dance music drama We Are Your Friends forged few friendships, debuting to a dismal $1.8 million from 2,333 locations, making it the worst wide-release launch of the “High School Musical” star’s career and one of the lowest wide-release debuts for a major studio film in history. Not accounting for inflation.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. only spent $2 million to acquire “We Are Your Friends.” Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein commented on the opening:
“We’re disappointed,” he told Variety. “We believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his.”
He said basically the same thing to The Hollywood Reporter:
“This was a passion project for Zac Efron, and we believe in him. Yes, the result was disappointing, but this was a small film.”
So it was basically an investment in their relationship with Zac Efron, and no huge loss.
But why did it tank like this, falling behind not only “Straight Outta Compton” and “War Room,” but “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” “No Escape,” “Sinister 2,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Hitman: Agent 47,” “The Gift,” “Jurassic World,” “Ant-Man” “Minions,” and “American Ultra”? It’s not like it was a critically trashed movie, showing — once again — that critical acclaim or disdain is not always a factor in box office. “We Are Your Friends” fell close to the middle, with a 43% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So what went wrong? More than one thing, but pretty much everyone agrees that “We Are Your Friends” was not a great name. What does it even mean and how does it tell the story? The marketing didn’t help explain what the movie was about, other than Zac Efron and music. It didn’t seem like a must-see, opening weekend kind of movie, especially in one of the last weekends of the summer. It may end up being a solid “renter” — which nowadays includes streaming — as opposed to something people feel the need to head out and see. Maybe the fact this movie had no support from the EDM community as a whole.
Some fans are defending the movie online, blaming the name/marketing and predicting it will be something of a cult hit. We’ll see.