Newborn Peter (Levi Miller) is left by his mother Mary (Amanda Seyfried) on the steps of an orphanage in London, an establishment under the care of Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke). Several years later, during World War II, upon learning that Mother Barnabas is hoarding food for herself, Peter and his best friend Nibs (Lewis MacDougall) try to steal it to distribute amongst themselves and the other orphans but they are caught. In the process, Peter finds a letter written by his mother, declaring her love and assuring Peter they will meet again "in this world or another".
In retaliation for the boys' mischief, Mother Barnabas summons pirates who kidnap Peter, Nibs and several others. Nibs manages to escape but Peter does not. He is captured and taken aboard a flying pirate ship. Following an aerial battle with several Spitfires the ship takes Peter to Neverland, a magical realm beyond space and time, where he is forced to become a slave laborer and mine for Pixum (crystallized Fairy Dust) on behalf of the terrible pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) who uses it to prevent himself from aging. Peter befriends another miner, named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund). After insulting Blackbeard's men, Peter is forced to walk the plank over the deep mine, but survives by flying. Blackbeard then tells Peter about an old prophecy that a boy who could fly would one day kill him, but Peter refuses to believe he is that boy.
Peter joins Hook and his accomplice, Sam "Smee" Smiegel (Adeel Akhtar), stealing one of Blackbeard's flying ships and escaping into the forest. There they are found by the native chief's daughter Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and nearly executed but when the natives Chief Great Little Panther (Jack Charles) notices Peter's pan flute pendant, left to him by Mary, and said to belong to their people's greatest hero, the legendary Pan. With the Memory Tree, Tiger Lily tells Peter that many years ago when the natives and the fairies united to fight together against the pirates, the Fairy Prince and the love of Blackbeard's life, Mary fell in love but when Blackbeard discovered them, the Prince took human form to rescue Mary. But as fairies could only live in the form of a human for one day, the Prince sacrificed his life for Mary. Mary was then forced to hide their newborn son Peter in the other world and seek shelter in the Fairy Kingdom when she and the fairies had to retreat. As part of his heritage, Peter has the ability to fly, but is unable to do so because of his lack of faith.
Fearful of Blackbeard's punishment, Smee betrays the natives' location to him, and in the ensuing battle, Chief Great Little Panther is murdered by Blackbeard, who also reveals that he killed Peter's mother. Peter is hurt to learn that Tiger Lily had lied to Peter, telling him his mother is alive but she explains that he would have walked away from his destiny if he knew the truth.
Peter, Hook, and Tiger Lily escape in a raft and head to the Fairy Kingdom to enlist their help in defeating the pirates. Along the way, Peter falls into the river and is nearly eaten by giant crocodiles before being rescued by the mermaids, after which he has a vision of Blackbeard accidentally killing Mary as she defended the Fairy Kingdom from his offensive. Despondent over their chances, Hook leaves while Peter and Tiger Lily arrive at the Fairy Kingdom only to be ambushed by Blackbeard who plans to use the fairies' vast amount of Pixum to live forever. Blackbeard takes Peter's pan flute pendant, which is the key to the fairy kingdom, opens their gates and launches an attack.
Peter escapes and befriends one of the fairies, named Tinker Bell. Together, they rally the rest of the Neverland fairies to fight the pirates while Tiger Lily duels Blackbeard. Hook returns on the stolen ship and fights Blackbeard's right-hand man Bishop (Nonso Anozie) until the ship tips over, sending both falling to their deaths. Peter conquers his fears and flies to save Hook, while Blackbeard and his men are overpowered by the fairies. Forced into an abyss, they subsequently fall to their deaths. Smee is the sole survivor having fled during the battle. Peter then sees a vision of Mary, who reaffirms him to be Neverland's savior: Peter Pan. Shortly afterwards, Peter and Hook, now the captain of the Jolly Roger, return to London to rescue Nibs and the other orphans, who become part of Peter's crew, the Lost Boys. In the final scene, Peter and Hook reaffirm their friendship, certain that nothing will ever go wrong between them.
The script for the film was listed on Hollywood's 2013 Black List. In January 2014, Garrett Hedlund was cast as a younger version of Captain Hook. On January 24, 2014, Jackman was officially cast as the pirate Blackbeard. In February, a casting call was issued for the role of Peter Pan, which went to newcomer Levi Miller in March. In April 2014, Amanda Seyfried was cast. In August 2014, British model Cara Delevingne was chosen to play a mermaid. Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lily, causing controversy due to her being of European ancestry, while Tiger Lily is traditionally portrayed as a Native American. Also considered for the role of Tiger Lily were actresses Lupita Nyong'o and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
According to critics of the casting there are very few main roles for Native American women in Hollywood, and that the choice not only took one away from a Native American actress, but also perpetuated the invisibility of Native Americans in film. According to TheWrap, director Joe Wright was trying to create a "very international and multi-racial" world, although the majority of main characters (including the four lead actors) are white. A petition was created in response to the casting to urge Warner Bros. studios to stop casting white actors in roles for people of color. Previous portrayals of the Piccaninny tribe in Peter Pan have been criticized as racist.
Critics of the casting in Pan suggested that Warner Bros. may have wanted to avoid repeating the alleged racism of previous Peter Pan stories, by altering the ethnicity of the Piccaninnies, rather than using a stereotypical portrayal of the source material. Many also felt that native actresses and actors were never given an opportunity to make it to mainstream films, with native roles being traditionally given to non-natives.
On April 28, 2014, the film's principal photography began. Many natural scenes in the film were from Son Doong Cave, Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park and Ninh Bình Province in Vietnam. The captured scenes were then graphically edited into the film.
The film's soundtrack was released in 2015. It was composed by John Powell, who dropped out of Kung Fu Panda 3 because he was busy on this film. Dario Marianelli, a frequent collaborator with Wright, had composed a score for the film, but Warner Bros. later replaced him with Powell after test screenings."Smells Like Teen Spirit" – Performed by Hugh Jackman and Cast
"Blitzkrieg Bop" – Performed by Hugh Jackman and Cast
"Short Change Hero" – Performed by Capitol Children's Choir & Metro Voices
"Something's Not Right" – Performed by Lily Allen
"Little Soldier" – Performed by Lily Allen
"Irish Blessing" – Performed and Arranged by The African Children's Choir
All Music – Composed and written by John Powell
On December 12, 2013, Warner Bros. set for a June 26, 2015 release, with Joe Wright as director. However, the release was pushed back several times, and the studio eventually decided on October 9, 2015, in part to avoid box office competition from summer blockbusters such as Ant-Man and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.
The new release date also gave the producers more time to work on editing and visual effects during post-production. The film was first released in Australia, on September 25, 2015. It was then released in key markets two weeks later, including Germany, Russia, Korea, and Brazil, on October 8. That was followed by Mexico and Spain the next day.
The film opened in the United Kingdom on October 16, 2015, and France on October 21, 2015, followed by China on October 22, 2015, Japan on October 31, 2015, and Italy on November 12, 2015.
Pan was originally planned for an IMAX release, as evident in early posters, trailers, and press, but was cancelled and only received non-IMAX presentations.
Pan was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 22, 2015, by Warner Home Video, two-and-a-half months after the film's release. Pan was one of the first Ultra HD Blu-ray released on March 1, 2016.
Pan was financially unsuccessful. It grossed $35.1 million in North America and $93.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $128.3 million. In comparison, its production budget was reported to be $150 million, and the total spent on marketing was estimated at $100–125 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film grossed $5.2 million on its opening day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $15.3 million, below the studio's $20 million projection, and finished third at the box office. Several factors have been attributed to the financial failure of Pan. Forbes blogger Scott Mendelson attributed this to the absence of notable movie stars. Despite the presence of Jackman, "like any number of would-be big stars who are best known for a certain franchise, his opening weekend strength dips when he's not playing his trademark character." Outside of the X-Men franchise, his biggest openings are Van Helsing ($51 million) and the $27 million debuts of Real Steel and Les Misérables. Variety described the departure of the film in tone and writings that made earlier Peter Pan stories and films a success; from Jackman's role as Blackbeard to the inclusion of contemporary pop songs from Nirvana and the Ramones which is peculiar for a children's film adaptation. "Without the Disney seal of approval, audiences are a bit wary of these fairy tale adaptations," said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. He added, "It veered off the Peter Pan path quite extensively and it was just too far left of center for a generation that grew up with Hook and sees that as the definitive account." Warner Bros. declined to discuss Pan's box office results.
Pan also struggled internationally, grossing $20.4 million on its opening weekend from 54 markets from over 11,000 screens. 3D comprised 85% of the opening gross. The film was released in Australia on September 24, 2015, to take advantage of the prime September school holidays, where it grossed $1.5 million in its opening weekend. Elsewhere it opened in the U.K. with $4.1 million and No. 1 in Mexico ($2.9 million), Brazil ($1.8 million), Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and No. 2 in Russia and the CIS with $2 million (behind The Martian), Spain with $1.7 million (behind Regression), Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.
The Hollywood Reporter estimated that the film cost $275 million to produce and market worldwide—while The New York Times reported at least $250 million—and noted that the financial losses by Warner Bros. could finish anywhere between $130 to $150 million. The site mentioned that if the film would have overperformed in China—the world's second largest movie market—the losses could have been lower. After opening in China on October 22, 2015, however, it failed to meet expectations and had one of the worst launches by a studio in recent years. Based on its production cost and factoring in the percentage of ticket sales kept by theater owners, analysts estimated that Pan needed to take in at least $400–500 million worldwide to break even. The financial loss incurred by Pan puts it alongside Tomorrowland and Jupiter Ascending as one of the biggest box office failures of 2015.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 27% of 173 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Pan finds a few bursts of magic in its prequel treatment of classic characters, though not enough to offset the rushed plot and shrill, CGI-fueled action." On Metacritic, the film a score of 36 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Andrew Barker of Variety, while praising the film's technical achievements, said that Pan exchanges "puckish mischief and innocence for doses of steampunk design, anachronistic music, a stock 'chosen one' narrative and themes of child labor, warfare and unsustainable mineral mining."