Olympus Has Fallen created a franchise for Gerard Butler upon its release in 2013. Here’s why it became a franchise instead of White House Down.
Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down came out around the same time, but here’s why Gerard Butler’s White House attack movie became a franchise instead of Channing Tatum’s. There are several instances in the history of Hollywood where movies with the same premise are released simultaneously. One such occurrence came in 2013 when Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down told stories where the White House was attacked and the president kidnapped.
The battle between Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down was spread out across several months. Gerard Butler’s action movie directed by Antoine Fuqua arrived in March and received mixed reviews. It made $170 million at the box office, with nearly $100M coming domestically. A few months later, Channing Tatum’s movie directed by Roland Emmerich hit theaters in June. It also received mixed reviews but made $205M worldwide, with over $130M coming internationally. Despite making less money than White House Down, it was Olympus Has Fallen that became a franchise.
So, why did Olympus Has Fallen manage to come out on top of White House Down? The reason is largely tied to how much money it cost to make each of the films. White House Down had the backing of Emmerich, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, and came from Sony Pictures. All of that gave the film expectations of being a blockbuster summer movie, affording it a reported budget of $150M. With usual Hollywood math saying a film needs to double its budget to become profitable, White House Down was a sizable disappointment. Meanwhile, Millennium Films made Olympus Has Fallen for a reported budget of $70M, allowing it to become profitable.
With Olympus Has Fallen managing to make more than double its budget, Millennium Films turned it into a new franchise for Gerard Butler. The first sequel, London Has Fallen, was released three years later and performed even better. It made over $205M worldwide on a reported $60M budget, making it even more profitable for the studio than the original. This allowed the third film, Angel Has Fallen, to be released in 2019. It was made for only $40M reportedly, which helped keep the franchise profitable despite making a franchise-low $146M worldwide. There have now been talks of making a fourth film starring Gerard Butler as Mike Banning.
As much as Olympus Has Fallen succeeded in launching a franchise, any hopes Sony had of a White House Down sequel evaporated with the film’s release. There were never any reports that Emmerich was planning to direct a sequel, and there’s no word on if Tatum and Foxx had sequel clauses in their contracts. It ultimately didn’t matter since White House Down didn’t do well enough to start such discussions. But, if the film did perform better, it is hard to imagine Sony not making White House Down 2.
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