After earning $36 million worldwide in its first month of theatrical release, Michael Mann’s Ferrari is most unequivocally the biggest box office bomb of the year-end holiday season. The film, financed independently and released domestically by Neon, arrived on PVOD this past Tuesday as it exited the Oscar race with zero nominations. Was this surprising? No. The Ferrari crash-and-burn is the latest and most lucid example of the disconnect between the powerful people who make movies and those who actually pay to watch them.
Critically acclaimed awards-baity films are well and good, but ideally not at a cost of $95 million, the officially reported budget for Ferrari. (Other sources say it cost more.) It’s natural to wonder what went wrong, but the more apt question is why anyone expected a different outcome. In the case of Ferrari, the disastrous box office stemmed from a number of issues—a misunderstanding about Adam Driver and Mann, in particular, and a misread on the film’s precedent.