The final chapter has been written on the highly-anticipated and much maligned movie on the life of country music icon Hank Williams, at least until the DVD is released. I Saw The Light—starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank, written and directed by Marc Abraham, and based off of the Hank biography written by Colin Escott—is a commercial flop. This is on top of receiving terrible reviews, being pushed back from November 2015 to April 1st for the national release, and being criticized for its novice director and the selection of Hiddleston as the leading man.
I Saw The Light made only $45,000 the first week after the limited opening on March 25th, but it was only shown in a total of 5 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. The next week the film entered a total of 741 theaters nationwide, but could only squeeze out a combined total of $745,000 in revenue, or just over $1,000 per screen. Reports from theaters were of mostly empty seats. Hopes that high-profile interviews and press with star Tom Hiddleston would help bolster the film didn’t do much more for the second full week of the movie. Dropping down to 548 total theaters showing the movie, revenue dropped 55% to $307,000. These are the disappointing stats from the movie site The Numbers.
The massive second week decline and $1.4 million gross total so far pretty much ensures I Saw The Light will be a financial bust. The budget for the film was $13 million. Director Marc Abraham’s Rat Pack Entertainment also produced and financed the film.
Many critics skewered the film for a terrible screenplay, while sparing the actors—including Hiddleston—for doing the best they could under the circumstances. In Saving Country Music’s review, the movie was given credit for being slightly better than expected given the bad reviews, and for having some good individual scenes, but it’s still hard to say that I Saw The Light in any way held up to the standards of other country music biopics such as Coal Miner’s Daughter or Walk The Line set, or to the compelling real story of Hank’s brief and troubled life.
All Hank fans can hope for now is that in the future another Hank Williams movie will be made that can be the definitive work on the country legend’s life, if the financial flop of I Saw The Light doesn’t make the prospects for another movie that much more difficult.