HBO's "Pacific" wounded in first outing

Executive Producers of the mini series "The Pacific", director Steven Spielberg (R) and actor Tom Hanks arrive at a tribute to veterans who served in the Pacific theater of World War II at the World War II Memorial on the Washington Mall, March 11, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO’s costly World War Two miniseries “The Pacific” got off to a slow start on Sunday evening, delivering 3.1 million viewers.

The 10-part series, from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is the biggest production in the pay cable network’s history with a reported budget of about $250 million. Still, its viewership was only 69% higher than the 9-10 p.m. time period norm. (The tally grew to 4 million with its encore airing.)

The opening was also 22% higher than the March 2008 debut of HBO’s last miniseries, the seven-parter “John Adams,” which cost about $110 million.

Spielberg and Hanks’ previous wartime miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” debuted to 10 million viewers in September 2001. (Nielsen has since changed the way pay cable networks are calculated, however, and these are no longer apples-to-apples comparisons).

Even with its larger premiere number, “Brothers” was considered a slow-starter whose success was secured in heavy repeat viewing and DVD sales. “The Pacific” could easily gather steam too, especially with critics saying the second half of the production is superior to the first.