Cruise v Pennywise v Kingsman at the Box Office: September Slumps
By John Hamann
October 1, 2017
Over the weekend, American Made earned only $17.01 million from 3,024 theatres for Universal, giving Tom Cruise the third lowest opening weekend of his career (for movies released on over 3,000 screens) and his lowest since Jack Reacher, which debuted to $15.2 million. The thing about Cruise though, is that his films either have great legs, or fizzle fast. The Mummy, believe it or not, may have made money and had decent legs (at least overseas), opening domestically to $31.7 million but then fizzling with $80.1 million. After that, the Tom Cruise overseas fan club took over – pushing The Mummy to $408 million against a $125 million production budget (in my book, films that earn three times production budget are at least close to being winners). Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation had huge domestic legs, opening to $55 million and finishing with $195 million, and even a turkey like Knight & Day was decent, opening to a low $20.1 million and finishing with $76.4 million.
Given the quality of American Made, and its behavior over opening weekend, it could find success. After only a weekend of work overseas, American Made has already earned $65 million, likely already enough to save Cruise’s bacon. If it can get to $150 million over there and add $60 million here, Universal should see a return. Cinemascores were a good but not spectacular at B+, but Blade Runner really could kneecap it next weekend when it debuts on 4,000 screens. I hope Doug Liman’s next film steers away from Cruise and picks up Channing Tatum as Gambit, and seeks the Deadpool-style hard R rating.
Third place, then, goes to Kingsman 2 but only by a another hair, as the Taron Egerton/Colin Firth film manages to earn $17.0 million in its second weekend. Getting second is the only good news, as The Golden Circle plunges 56% compared to opening weekend, well off the 49% second weekend hold of the original. The first Kingsman was all about legs; the sequel will be the opposite. The problem for Fox is that the sequel cost $23 million more to make ($81 million versus $104 million). That’s a lot of ground for the overseas number to make up, but so far, it is doing okay internationally, picking up $68 million to date. Will it see a profit for the studio? At this point, it’s a long shot, but stranger things have happened.
Despite being a film for kids – and the only one of its kind in the top 12 – The LEGO Ninjago Movie gets dropped on its head in its second weekend. This version of a LEGO Movie earned $12 million in its second frame, off 41% compared to its $20 million opening. The first two LEGO movies dropped 28% and 38% in their second weekends, as the comparative stomping continues. At a cost of $70 million to make, this will be the first to lose a significant amount of money. Domestically, The LEGO Ninjago Movie has earned $35.6 million, and will likely top out at about $55 million. Add to that the fact that both The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie earned more domestically than overseas, and you can see the trouble that Warner Bros. is in this time around. Still, the franchise is kicking butt with over $800 million in worldwide sales versus production budgets totalling $210 million.