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TRON Legacy and TRON Evolution: How Did They Do?

By TronFAQ on Saturday, April 02, 2011 at 6:15 PM
With both TRON Legacy and the original TRON arriving on Blu-ray shortly, I thought I'd take a look back at how both TRON Legacy the film and TRON Evolution the game did.

TRON Legacy was still showing in theaters right up until mid-April, 2011. Though in a very limited number of theaters by this point.

During its 17 weeks in release, it earned a total of $400,062,763 ‒ just managing to pass the $400 million mark. Of that total, $172,062,763 was earned domestically (U.S. and Canada) while $228,000,000 was foreign earnings. These earnings figures are sourced from the site Box Office Mojo.

Previously, I predicted that TRON Legacy would be a box office smash. Whether that actually turned out to be the case, is debatable. With a production budget claimed to be $170 million and a marketing campaign rumored at an additional $100 million, for a total cost of approximately $270 million: earning about $400 million couldn't necessarily be considered a smash hit.

Still . . . it's not a flop, either. Though, to be honest, it's the foreign earnings that saved TRON Legacy from being a box office bomb. Earning roughly $170 million in domestic receipts is a poor showing. American audiences weren't really enthused about TRON Legacy, apparently. While international audiences as a whole were more receptive.

So what did I think of TRON Legacy? It was . . . okay.

Coming from something of a TRON fanatic, calling Legacy "okay" is akin to damning it with faint praise. I saw it in IMAX 3-D, and visually there is no question that it was impressive. (Though I still don't like the costumes for the programs in Legacy. They're uninspired and bland without the detailed circuitry patterns from the original costumes. Interesting then, that the preview for the upcoming TRON Uprising animated series seems to have addressed this complaint by adding back some detail. It can be seen starting at the 0:49 mark. Disney actually listening to the fans' feedback? :o )

Rather than type out a long diatribe about what I thought was wrong with Legacy and how it could have been better, I'll just direct you to watch Spoony's rant on TRON Legacy below. It sums up everything that I thought was wrong with the film, far more eloquently than I ever could. I'm not quite as down on the film as Spoony is, though. I at least liked it and thought it was decent. Just not great. Some of the things he took exception with in the story can be explained away, but on the whole he's telling it like it is.

Be warned, though, that the video is a very long rant at almost an hour long. It's also full of SPOILERS if you haven't seen the movie yet, and NSFW either due to language. Even if you intend to watch the entire thing, you might want to skip to the 4:09 mark because he doesn't really talk about TRON Legacy until then. If you want the "short version" where Spoony gets to the point ‒ and the part that really stood out for me, the part I wholeheartedly agree with ‒ then skip to the 44:18 mark.

For the TL;DR crowd, suffice to say that Legacy's story was its biggest flaw. "So much wasted potential."

So will there be another TRON sequel? A TRON 3, for lack of a better title? Rumors point to yes.

As I predicted would occur, TRON Evolution did not do very well. In fact, it was a massive bomb across all three platforms (PC, 360, PS3) doing even worse than I ever imagined. As a result, the Disney-owned developer of Evolution, Propaganda Games, was shut down this January.

Even Disney Interactive itself is in a state of disarray, thanks in part to the poor sales of Evolution. At least two executives at DI either resigned or were fired in the last year, alone. If you've been following this site for any length of time: then you know exactly what I've thought of Disney Interactive over the years, and all of this comes as absolutely no surprise to me. It's a sinking ship that won't be rescued any time soon.

So how did TRON Evolution do, exactly? It sold 190,755 copies worldwide on all three platforms (PC, 360, PS3), as of January 2011. This information was sourced from the L.A. Times.

Going back to one of my previous articles, which talked about how well the sales of TRON 2.0 did, we again have to look at expectations in today's marketplace.

Already, in 2003, sales of 100,000 (estimated) for TRON 2.0 on one platform (PC) was considered "okay" but disappointing. Fast forward 7-8 years, where expectations have essentially increased tenfold. Today, sales of 1 million are just "okay" and still disappointing. Meanwhile, Evolution didn't even reach one-fifth of that number across three platforms.

Then factor in the undoubtedly much larger development and marketing budgets for Evolution vs. TRON 2.0, and the fact that Evolution had the massive hype machine that is the film TRON Legacy behind it . . . and you begin to see that, by today's standards, Evolution essentially did even worse than TRON 2.0. Disney must be reeling in shock, especially after touting how they hoped Evolution would be a huge hit.

To put this in even better perspective, let's look at the sales of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. (A game I highly recommend, by the way.) It's a title made by an independent developer, PC only (at this time), with virtually no marketing behind it. Yet it sold the same number of copies as Evolution, if not more. (Yes, I realize it took a little longer at four months versus one month. But still!)


As for what I think of Evolution: my opinion of it hasn't really changed since I predicted what it would be like, based on the trailers and other previews. In fact, it turned out exactly the way I expected. Here's a summary of TRON Evolution written by a game critic that I fully agree with, as stated in this article under the "Unfortunate Disappointments" heading.

Tron Evolution: The Videogame was a far different kind of bad. This was a game that was creatively bankrupt when it came to gameplay. Looking at what Disney Interactive Studios put together is a game that is essentially a mod for a Prince of Persia game. You could put a Prince of Persia skin on this game and you would never know the difference. I love Tron, and the entire franchise. I am one of the few that has probably played Tron 2.0 at least a dozen times, and have enjoyed it each time. It was a fantastic journey and it felt like something associated with the Tron universe. This game ended up being an injustice to the Tron franchise and actually takes away from what is there from the prior games and movies.

- Joe Haygood, Aeropause Games

To sum up, in my view: TRON Legacy was at least decent if not exceptional, but TRON Evolution was a major disappointment.

June 3rd, 2011 UPDATE: I've updated the article due to the fact that TRON Legacy was still in theaters until a couple of weeks after this was first posted, and because Box Office Mojo has continued to adjust the earnings figures over the last couple of months. This article now reflects the current figures as of June 3rd.
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3 comments so far.

  1. Anonymous May 08, 2011 7:22 PM
    Amnesia: The Dark Descent is meant to be very scary.
  2. Unknown May 21, 2011 4:03 PM
    I never want to hear that idiot Spoony speak again. I have never heard such a moron in my life. There is absolutely no reason to listen to this guy.
  3. Remmik December 24, 2011 2:14 AM
    I totally agree. Too bad these comments are hidden unless you click on them.
    I mean come on, he is talking about not understanding the isomorphs, their significance and how Flynn created them; he didn't, they happened on their own (part of their significance) and they saw things differently and could solve real world disease with their unique prospective (at least from what I recall...have to see it again soon). did he fall asleep during that part??
    40 min talking about something other than this movie (not that I sat through his opening rant) and then jump ahead to hear this myopic view of someone wanting the grid to be just like the old one even though many cycles have past and he doesn't even understand the old (or new) film.
    Also he wanted programs to be defined in this movie (like Multicore dude and wirless protocol man)..uhh hello, this is a closed system in the back of the arcade that has only advanced in the way the code has been written (not the hardware that nobody new was back there).
    "He goes from zero to evil immediately, why?" He is not evil, there is no angels and devils here. He made a decision to serve the system as he was designed to do and not go along with Flynn and his acceptance of any anomalies that occur, as a matter of fact, he even asked permission from Flynn to do so. He was created as a watch dog (even of the MPC) back in the day and I guess you can fault Flynn for not rewriting him. Although chances are he had grown to big (Like the MPC) and obviously didn't see it coming.
    OK I've now wasted even more time defending the movie. Actually, not defend (even though I did like it) but just point out his misconceptions and ignorance....and what's with that hair pulling back action every 30 sec LOL (sorry for the personal attack...I just was refraining this whole time and couldn't take it anymore:)

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