Weekend Box Office: The Fall Guy stumbles with a low-key opening

The Fall Guy had a pretty dismal opening for a movie everyone expected to be the first summer blockbuster of 2024.

While the big-screen adaptation of The Fall Guy was never expected to open to mega-blockbuster numbers, no one thought the well-reviewed Ryan Gosling movie would stumble out of the gate to this extent. Indeed, Hollywood insiders assumed this had a shot at a $40 million plus opening (we expected about $35 million). Now it looks like David Leitch’s film will only make $28.5 million over what’s widely considered the first weekend of the summer movie season. Last year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 made $110 million in the same frame.

The Fall Guy was never expected to open anywhere near that number. Indeed, it was originally planned as a March release, only to be moved thanks to how empty the release calendar is due to the SAG/WGA strikes from last year (take a look at our Summer movie preview, and see how low wattage a summer this is likely to be). Still, given how well it was reviewed (we loved it) and the fact that stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt are coming off of Barbenheimer, box office pundits expected this to overperform. Alas, it was not to be, with the huge-budget movie (at least $130 million before publicity) posting a number that suggests it won’t even get close to $100 million domestically unless it has incredible word-of-mouth.

So what happened here?

Yesterday, I put the blame on the changing habits of cinema-goers, and it should also be noted that movies are REALLY expensive to see nowadays. So, people won’t go through the expense of going to a theater unless they view them as a special event. Given how small theatrical to digital windows have gotten, I imagine a big chunk of the audience is waiting for the imminent digital release, which should be within six weeks.

So, what’s the way forward for movies? It’s hard to say, but one thing worth recognizing is the rise of limited-run engagements. In a shocking turn of events, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace has actually beaten Challengers to take second place this weekend, with an estimated $8.1 million finish, compared to the Zendaya movie’s $7.6 million haul. The Phantom Menace is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and fans seemingly turned out in droves for the re-release. Before you say this is embarrassing for Challengers, note that the movie posted a modest 49 percent decline, now standing at a $29.4 million total. It should finish in the $45-50 million range, which is very decent for a movie that’s due to hit streaming (on Prime Video) before too long, given that it’s an Amazon-MGM production. 

Meanwhile, the poorly reviewed horror flick Tarot (which our critic Tyler Nichols despised) made $6.5 million, which was good enough for fourth place. Given that Sony barely publicized the movie and the fact that it has a budget in the $8 million-ish range, it should turn a profit for the studio, even if I wouldn’t expect a Tarot 2 to hit theatres anytime soon. Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire showed amazing staying power in fifth place, with a $4.5 million weekend and a $188 million domestic total (so far). It should easily cross the $200 million mark.

A24’s Civil War continued to perform well, making $3.55 million for a $62 million total. It’s bound to wind up the studio’s second highest-grossing movie ever (after Everything Everywhere All At Once). Surprisingly, the well-liked Christian flick Unsung Hero posted a 61% decline for a $3 million weekend, suggesting it won’t be a grassroots hit in the vein of Jesus Revolution. Kung Fu Panda 4 managed to reach eighth place in the top 10, with family audiences giving this a $2.4 million weekend for a $188 million total. It looks like it will finish just shy of $200 million domestically. Radio Silence’s Abigail started to wrap up its run with a $2.3 million finish for a $22.7 million total. It seems like this fun horror flick just never found an audience. In better news, Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire showed a lot of staying power, with it finishing ahead of Dune: Part Two in 10th place with $1.8 million for the weekend and a $109.9 million total. It hits digital retailers on Tuesday.

Next weekend will (hopefully) give the summer box office the shot in the arm it so desperately needs, with 20th Century Studios opening Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Will it crack $50 million? Let us know in the comments!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/weekend-box-office-the-fall-guy/

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SBS editor