‘Artemis Fowl’ Is Shaping Up to Be This Year’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

2019 was a landmark year for Disney. With new Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Frozen, and live-action remakes on the calendar, the House of Mouse handily bested all other studios that year. So 2020 was already set up to be a bit of a downer. The upcoming Disney slate is solid but notably relies a lot less on sequels and remakes than the previous year.

Most of the films Disney has in the queue build on the aforementioned brands. Films such as Onward, Mulan, and Black Widow are hitting theaters in the first half of the year. However, in the midst of a solid — though far from guaranteed — 2020, the film that most sticks out is Disney’s upcoming Artemis Fowl.

Oh, you didn’t know the film is just a few months from release? Therein lies the beginning of the movie’s problems.

Believe it or not, the ‘Artemis Fowl’ movie is coming to theaters soon

Based on author Eoin Colfer’s popular book series, Artemis Fowl stars Ferdia Shaw as the title character. A boy genius, Artemis is the latest in a dynasty of criminal masterminds. And this film — like the first book — follows his search for his long-lost father (Colin Farrell).

While Disney clearly hopes it will start a new franchise, Artemis Fowl has already managed to alienate the books’ core fan base. Downplaying the Fowl family’s criminal ties, the new trailer instead positions them as misunderstood heroes. Despite Colfer’s support, some fans of the books are no optimistic about this direction for the Artemis Fowl movie.

Perhaps if director Kenneth Branagh’s film was building up mainstream interest, this wouldn’t be a huge concern. But as it stands, the movie’s marketing has been incredibly muted, leading to a distinct lack of buzz. Artemis Fowl‘s high-concept sci-fi adventure should connect with audiences. Instead, it falls in line with other missteps Disney has recently made.

The movie could be the latest big-budget adaptation to flop

After Alice in Wonderland crossed $1 billion in 2010, Disney must have gotten emboldened by that success. Not only did the film lead to an ongoing string of live-action Disney remakes, but it also gave the studio the confidence to roll the dice on a variety of big-budget adaptations.

Films such as 2012’s John Carter, 2015’s Tomorrowland, and the costly one-two punch of 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms all carried production budgets of at least $125 million. Moreover, all of them boast star-studded casts and promising material. But each failed to connect with audiences.

Artemis Fowl may be similarly misguided. Like those aforementioned films, it cost well over $100 million and has little to no positive buzz. Even worse, Artemis Fowl hits theaters just a week after Fast and Furious 9 and a week before Wonder Woman 1984. Positioning its biggest — and most expensive — gamble between two of the year’s most-anticipated sequels might not work out well for Disney.

Should ‘Artemis Fowl’ have just been delivered directly to Disney+?

Truly, Artemis Fowl faces an uphill battle in theaters, with a precedent set for its potential failure. Yet, some industry pundits wonder whether Disney should have opted for an alternative release strategy. Although it’s hard to imagine Artemis Fowl becoming a breakout hit, the production could have felt right at home (pun intended) as a Disney+ original.

To date, the most high-profile Disney+ films are the live-action Lady and the Tramp and Bill Hader-Anna Kendrick holiday comedy Noelle. To be fair, Artemis Fowl carries a much heftier price tag than typical Disney+ movies, which run between $40 million and $60 million. But at least the core audience would be more likely to find it and check it out.

In today’s day and age, consumers are increasingly reticent to the theatrical experience. So eliminating that barrier to entry for Artemis Fowl would significantly raise the film’s profitability. Of course, we don’t know for sure how the film will perform. But with its release coming up fast, we’ll find out if Artemis Fowl will soar or sink soon enough.

Artemis Fowl hits theaters on May 29, 2020.