Ron Howard's ocean epic In the Heart of the Sea has flopped at the US box office, making just $11m (£7.25m) after debuting in more than 3,000 cinemas.
That still enabled the film to claim second spot, just behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.
The film was based on the true events which inspired the book Moby Dick and had an estimated $100m (£65.9m) budget.
"We stand behind Ron and his vision for the story," said Jeff Goldstein, a Warner Bros vice president.
Ready for Star Wars
"We believe in him. He's a terrific filmmaker. But some movies work and unfortunately some movies don't."
Howard is no stranger to movie success - his film Beautiful Mind won two Oscars back in 2002.
His other hit films include Frost/Nixon and Apollo 13.
But his 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code failed to hit the spot.
Warners, which has had successes with films including The Lego Movie, Godzilla and American Sniper, has also had its share of box office struggles with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Jupiter Ascending and Pan.
Of course, Hollywood is bracing itself for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuts this week.
Goldstein said he hoped that In the Heart of the Sea would benefit over the Christmas holidays by having opened before Star Wars.
"There's a cultural phenomenon around the corner," he said.
"Our hope was to get in in front of it and get some word of mouth so that when you get down to Christmas week - we leapfrog over this coming week - that you can break through the clutter of those other new movies."
All eyes will be on Star Wars' first week takings, which could threaten Jurassic World's debut of $208.8m to become the biggest launch in history.
The rest of the US box office was fairly evenly spread, with The Good Dinosaur in third place with $10.5m (£6.9m) and then Creed in fourth with $10.1m (£6.6m) and Krampus in fifth with $8m (£5.7m).
North American box office top five
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - $11.3m (£7.45m)
2. In the Heart of the Sea - $11m (£7.25m)
3. The Good Dinosaur - $10.5m (£6.9m)
4. Creed - $10.1m (£6.6m)
5. Krampus - $8m (£5.57m)