Here’s a sign that Justin Bieber fatigue is settling in across the country: The pop singer’s new film, Justin Bieber’s Believe, tanked at the box office this week. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the movie earned $1.25 million in ticket sales on its opening day in theaters — that’s an average of just $1,200 per theater.
The WSJ notes that expectations for the documentary were “fairly low,” but this kind of meager return should still come as a shock for Bieber’s camp. Believe, which hit screens on December 25, didn’t even crack the top 10 grossing films on Christmas Day, finishing 14th at the box office. (Per Deadline, fantasy epic The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug took the top spot, raking in roughly $10 million.)
Bieber’s previous film, 2011’s Never Say Never, was backed by Paramount Pictures, released in more than 3,100 theaters across the U.S., and cleared more than $12 million in its opening day. Never Say Never went on to gross $73 million in ticket sales, but the WSJ estimates that its sequel will be lucky to cross the $25 million mark.
Some factors to consider, though: According to a source who spoke with the Journal, Believe had a relatively small budget somewhere between $4 million and $5 million. Plus, there’s an army of Beliebers around the world, so the doc can still save face overseas.
That said, maybe this box office flop is a sign that Bieber really should go away. The 2013 Hall of Shamer announced on Twitter on December 24 that he’s “officially” retiring, doubling down on an announcement he had made the previous week on Los Angeles radio station Power 106 FM. In the days since the 19-year-old’s Christmas Eve reveal, Perez Hilton has reported that the retirement talk is just a poorly executed prank on the media.
“An insider” told the gossip site, “He isn’t retiring, clearly… He is basically poking fun of how quickly news spreads without anyone vetting if it is true or not.” It should also be noted that during the radio station interview that fueled the retirement rumors, Biebs can’t keep a straight face and says that he’s just kidding.
So, yeah, maybe all the “throwing in the towel” talk is just a craven way to get fans excited about the dud he just dropped in theaters, a ploy to sell copies of his new compilation album Journals, and a way to distract people from the latest sketchy mini-scandal to dog his name. Or maybe he’s getting the hint.