Problems with “Chaos Walking” were apparent long before its first box office receipts came in. In 2018, it was revealed the film would be undergoing extensive reshoots, which would push it off its original March 2019 date. From there, the official release date reminded nebulous, with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the theatrical exhibition space further hurting its ability to stamp down a specific day.
Once it finally dropped in March 2021, “Chaos Walking” was debuting in a marketplace where Los Angeles movie theaters still weren’t open. Additionally, lead performers Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley had found box office glory headlining “Star Wars” and “Spider-Man” movies, respectively, but had yet to prove their names alone could draw an audience. On top of all that, the source material for “Chaos Walking” was nowhere near ubiquitous as the text that served as the foundations for fellow Lionsgate titles “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games.”
Given all of these elements, it’s no surprise that the film grossed just $26.4 million on a $100 million budget. Even looking at the box office standards of titles released in the heart of the pandemic, “Chaos Walking” had underwhelming financial returns. For comparison’s sake, it came in behind titles like “The Little Things,” “The Unholy,” and “Nomadland,” many of which had simultaneous streaming releases and much smaller budgets to their name. Such a crushingly bad worldwide box office haul was a fittingly disappointing ending to a movie that had long been plagued by trouble.