Fantastic Four was released Friday to lavish critical praise and ecstatic word-of-mouth… in an alternate universe. In this reality, however, it looks like a mortal lock for the Calvin Award for Worst Picture of 2015.
Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
August 8, 2015
With Thursday’s $2.7 million in previews included, the reboot of Fantastic Four earned just $11.3 million, meaning that its “real” Friday box office number is $8.6 million. Keep in mind that this is a Marvel project, and even if it’s not under Disney’s guidance, Fox has been successful with the X-Men franchise. In fact, they even had solid results with their 2005 Fantastic Four release, which debuted with $56 million and went on to earn $155 million, and its sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer, which had an opening weekend of $58.1 million and a domestic total of $132 million.
Everyone involved in this project seems to have known it was doomed to failure for some time now. Although Variety mentions the star power involved in Fantastic Four, none of the four principal players is particularly known for their box office clout. Miles Teller has been in some great but tiny films (The Spectacular Now, Whiplash) and was involved in the Divergent series, but if you asked the average person on the street who he is, you’d get a blank stare. And he’s probably the biggest “star” out of the bunch, though you might make an argument for Michael B. Jordan, whose biggest prior release was Chronicle, in which he co-starred with Teller. Jamie Bell and Kate Mara are barely known names, though Bell has carved out a nice career in indie flicks.
Even more damning was the Twitter diatribe of Fantastic Four’s director, Josh Trank. “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this,” he wrote in the now-deleted tweet. “And it would have received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.”
While his outburst probably means that he won’t work again for a major studio for a while, it does illustrate how different the “creative process” is when it comes to producing a potential blockbuster. Studio meddling is a given, leading some directors (i.e. Edgar Wright) to exit projects rather than compromise their vision.
Whether or not Trank is responsible for the final product, what we were left with is a movie that is just 9% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes (6% from Top Critics) and that received a brutal C- Cinemascore from opening night audiences. As we’ve been seeing throughout 2015 and particularly this summer, we have reached the point where critical reviews and audience word-of-mouth are crucial during opening weekend. Not only do bad movies crash and burn, but they also wither on the vine over their first three days. With many people calling Fantastic Four the worst movie of the year, I’d expect it to reflect this trend in a big way. I’m predicting a weekend total of $26 million. Ordinarily, I might think the studio would lie up, but $30 million plus isn’t realistic here. So, I don’t know that they have much reason to do so.
That’s going to opening the door for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation to win the weekend, as its Friday total was $8.2 million. Since it’s riding a wave of super positive reviews and audience reaction, it should hold up somewhat decently in weekend #2, although these days, any film that opens over $50 million is subject to a 50% decline. That Friday amount does represent a 60% drop from last week, though its $20 million opening day did include $4 million from Thursday previews. I think it comes in with $27 million, which definitely means it’s going to be a photo finish for domination at the top spot.
We had three other wide releases that debuted this weekend. The first of them, The Gift, was written and directed by Joel Edgerton. With a marvelous 92% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, it has been able to attract a wider audience than it might have otherwise in the August box office landscape. With a $4.1 million Friday, it should be able to go on to a weekend total of $11 million.
Meryl Streep might be a Really Big Star, but not even her presence is enough to overcome a mediocre movie. Ricki and the Flash was going to have limited audience appeal in the first place, and without rapturous reviews, people were going to figure they could wait to see this one on video in a few months. It earned $2.3 million yesterday, and thanks to an older audience demographic, should wind up with $6.7 million.
The final new opener, Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep, debuted outside the top 10 with $1.2 million. Lionsgate released the stop-motion film on just 2,320 screens and didn’t offer much by way of marketing support. Everything earned in North America is just gravy, though. It has already accumulated $60 million from international venues. It may just squeak into the top 10 with a total of $3.7 million.