The weekend also turned back the clock at the movie theater as well, as a beleaguered franchise tries again.
By Tim Briody
November 3, 2019
Since Terminator 2: Judgment Day practically revolutionized the film industry in 1991(!), the franchise has been looking to recapture that magic. It took another 12 years before Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines arrived to mixed results. In 2009 we got Terminator Salvation, the only one to not star Arnold Schwarzenegger (save for a CGI cameo, as he was Governor of California at the time), and the last attempt before this weekend was 2015's Terminator Genisys.
Diminishing returns at the box office kicked in right away, as Rise of the Machines earned $150.3 million, Salvation fell to $125.3 million and Genisys could only manage $89.7 million.
James Cameron, the man behind the first two films, would like you to forget all that, as this weekend we get Terminator: Dark Fate, the official canon sequel to Judgment Day, 28 years later. Cameron gets a story and producer credit here, which is a bit more than the last couple of entries. (Depending on your opinion, you can call the other films in between then "alternate timelines" or "never existed and I don't know what you're talking about.")
Now, for the bad news, Terminator: Dark Fate wins the weekend, but with a relatively paltry total of $29 million. That's essentially the same as Genisys' disappointing opening in 2015 ($27 million) as it's clear the last few films have done quite a number on the Terminator franchise's reputation, as even with mostly positive reviews (69% Fresh, up from the last one's 27%!), audiences weren't biting for the sequel where Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton reunite.
As is usually the case, it's once again up to the international earnings to save a film's bacon, and one of the reasons Dark Fate even exists is that Genisys had the best international performance of any film in the Terminator franchise (before inflation, of course). Early returns have it doing alright, but it's still got a bit to go before meeting the $185 million reported budget. Domestically, it's not going to reach $100 million, and the $90 million total that Genisys earned is probably Dark Fate's best fate.
Joker was bumped to second last weekend by a little over $100,000 when the actuals came in, but it holds there this weekend and is still going strong with just a 28% decline to $13.9 million in its fifth weekend. It's currently at $299.6 million, and if the actuals don't get it to $300 million, that will happen with Monday matinees. It's simply a remarkable result, and is striking a chord with audiences in a way very few DC films have. The only question remaining is if it can get to $1 billion worldwide. It's got $66 million to go.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil adds $12.1 million (down 37%) in its third weekend and has $84.3 million to date. It's a $100 million disappointment for Disney, but they most definitely have higher expectations than most.
A mild surprise lands in fourth place has Harriet earns $12 million. A historical biopic about Harriet Tubman is something that there is a surprising dearth of, so I wonder if that was the most likely factor here in this opening, where tracking was around the upper single digits.
Seemingly awards bait-y, the ship has largely sailed on that aspect, but it did earn an A+ CinemaScore from audiences, so it stands a chance to perform decently through November, and only cost $17 million to make, so its well on its way to being a profitable venture for Focus.
The Addams Family holds decently again, dropping 29% to $8.5 million and $85.2 million in five weekends. It might just make it to $100 million, and that bodes well for the sequel set for 2021.
Zombieland: Double Tap earns $7.3 million (down 38%) and has $59.3 million in three weekends. The way too late sequel is getting closer to matching the total of the original, but that's not really what you want a sequel to do (it's not as bad as earning less, but this one cost more to make).
Countdown hangs on surprisingly well, falling just 34% to $5.8 million and $17.7 million in two weekends. With Halloween on a Thursday, maybe people made it a spooky weekend just for kicks. With Countdown costing just $6.5 million to make, it's a big win already.
Police thriller Black and Blue is not so lucky, falling 52% to $4 million and $15.4 million to date. Despite the drop, its matched its modest $12 million budget, so Screen Gems will come out ahead here, as it takes in a few million more during its remaining time in theaters.
Opening in ninth place with $3.6 million is Motherless Brooklyn, a noir crime film based on a novel, adapted for the screen, directed by and starring Edward Norton. Aiming for prestige and awards and missing the mark quite a bit (rating just 61% Fresh), the tepid reception and mediocre box office (even in a relatively low 1,342 theaters) put an end to that discussion rather quickly.
The good news for Motherless Brooklyn is that it wasn't Arctic Dogs, which made less in over twice as many theaters! Earning a mere $3.1 million, the computer animated film cost $50 million to make and despite the voices of Jeremy Renner, Alec Bladwin, Heidi Klum and John Cleese, was barely advertised and the kids just weren't interested. It also rated just 20% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, so yeah, that happened.
The top 12 films earned $104.6 million, making this weekend a disaster compared to last year when the top films made $133.5 million, with Bohemian Rhapsody rocking its way to a $51 million opening.
Next week things also look a little bleak, with Stephen King adaptation and The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep arriving in theaters, along with World War II film Midway, John Cena and some kids in the goofy comedy Playing With Fire and the first holiday themed film of the year, Last Christmas.