Weekend Box Office: Mission Accomplished, Four Not So Fantastic

Horrible reviews and plenty of advanced bad buzz helped keep Fox’s Fantastic Four from opening in first place this weekend at the North America box office. Instead, Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation stayed put in the top spot for a second week in a row. With the summer movie season entering the home stretch, the box office blahs began to settle in as the box office saw a 20% drop from last weekend’s top ten and a steep 32% drop in comparison to last year at this time when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened to a big $65.6 million.

Thanks to strong word-of-mouth and great reviews, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation had an excellent second round on 3,988 screens where it snagged an estimated $29.4 million. Off only 47%, the Tom Cruise blockbuster has earned a solid $108 million after ten days. With no direct competition on the horizon Rogue Nation could be headed to at least $175 million domestically with plenty more from international markets. Foreign markets contributed $65.5 million this weekend from 58 territories, bringing its offshore total to $156.7 million.

Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Three Marvel properties released over the past twelve months that were hits with both critics and the moviegoers. The same can’t be said about the new Fantastic Four reboot from Fox, which landed in second place with a colossal thud. Originally expected to bring in anywhere from $40-50 million in its debut, the best that the troubled $120 million production could amass from a very wide 3,995 theater count was a dismal $26.2 million.

How bad was the opening for Fantastic Four? The weekend gross was lower than the $27.6 million collected by Age of Ultron from Thursday night previews back on April 30th. The Josh Trank directed bomb also opened far below the $56 and $58 million earned in 2005 and 2007, respectively, by the previous two Fantastic Four features. The debut for the 2015 film looks even worse when one adjusts the openings for the previous FF films for inflation, which would translate to roughly $75 million each.

Troubles for Fantastic Four started long before critics branded it with a dire 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and fanboys condemned it on opening day with a “C-“ CinemaScore rating. Controversial casting choices, horror stories about Trank’s on set behavior toward the cast and crew and repeated clashes with Fox over studio-mandated reshoots gave off the aura of a very troubled production long before it hit theaters.

Given how fast films burn out in today’s market, the best that Fantastic Four can hope for from the North American market might be $50-60 million, reportedly about $20 million less than what was spent by Fox to market the movie. The studio will now have to pin its hopes on the overseas market to save the film’s bottom line. Judging by the $34.1 million opening from the 43 markets it debuted in this past Friday, it remains unclear as to whether this will happen.

In third place with an estimated $12 million from 2,503 theaters was STX Entertainment’s thriller The Gift. The directorial debut for actor Joel Edgerton, who co-stars alongside Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, was a hit with the critics as well as the public. The film earned a strong 92% critic approval on Rotten Tomatoes but a so-so “B” rating from ticket buyers on CinemaScore. Even if the film cools off quickly, it will be profitable: the production budget was only $5 million.

After opening last weekend to lower-than-expected numbers Warner’s Vacation reboot had a decent hold this weekend on 3,430 screens. Off only 38%, the new Griswold clan earned $9.1 million to bring its ten-day total to $37.3 million and could travel its way to the $60 million mark by the end of the summer.

Rounding out the top five was another Marvel superhero film, Ant-Man. Off 39%, the Paul Rudd hit added $7.8 million from 2,910 theaters in its fourth week of release. Ant-Man has earned $147.4 million domestically and should finish close to the $165 million mark. International markets have brought in $178 million so far.

In seventh place with a $7 million gross from 1,605 screens was the third wide opener of the weekend, Sony’s Ricki and the Flash. Starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, Ricki played largely to female audiences. Critics were mixed on the $18 million Jonathan Demme film, bestowing it with a 59% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film will add 400 more screens next weekend.

Opening just outside the top ten was the latest offering from Aardman Animation Studios, Shaun the Sheep. While the critics loved it –the film has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes-, families found other things to do during the waning days of summer. Released by Lionsgate in North America, the best Shaun could muster since opening last Wednesday on 2,320 screens was $4 million for the weekend and $5.6 million overall.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1. Minions (Universal) $7.3 million (-41%); $302.7 million
  1. Trainwreck (Universal) $6.2 million (-35%); $91 million
  1. Pixels (Sony) $5.4 million (-48%); $57.6 million
  1. Southpaw (Weinstein) $4.7 million (-37%); $40.7 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton and the big screen version of the hit 1960s television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. With solid advanced reviews and plenty of hype, Straight Outta Compton will have no problem pushing Ethan Hunt and the IMF Team aside in its quest for first place.

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