At some point, Paramount and Skydance Media may just need to take the Terminator franchise behind the woodshed and put it down. The studio continues to believe that it has incredibly valuable IP in the Terminator brand, for the fourth time now, the studio has been proven wrong. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the Terminator movie is, it appears that audiences just don’t want to see them, at least not in large enough numbers to justify their price tags.
To Paramount’s credit, they did nearly everything right this time around with Terminator: Dark Fate. They hired a great director in Tim Miller (Deadpool); they brought back Linda Hamilton; and they assembled a great, diverse cast around Hamilton and Arnie. Revieww were solid (69 percent from Rotten Tomatoes), and audiences liked the result (85 percent on the audience meter, and a B+ Cinemascore). In the end, however, Paramount could only produce a $29 million opening, which is only slightly more than what the last Terminator film, Genisys, opened with on its way to a disappointing $89 million domestic run.
Honestly, I think the problem is simply that it’s a 35-year-old franchise, it hasn’t been able to attract new audiences, and the existing audience probably feels burned by the last three lackluster sequels. Terminator and Judgement Day were huge hits, but a lot of the original viewers for that film are senior citizens now, and there’s been no indication that the franchise can pull in younger viewers. In fact, for Dark Fate, 71 percent of the audience was over 25, while only 29 percent was under the age of 25. Alas, it seems, Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes will join a long line of Hollywood stars who have tried — and failed — to resurrect the franchise, including Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Jason Clarke, Matt Smith, Anton Yelchin, Helena Bonham Carter, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Terminator Genisys, at least, was able to bail itself out with a strong run worldwide, finishing with $440 million. Dark Fate will have to rely on International audiences to save this one, too. It did much better internationally, scooping up $73 million this weekend and $94 million total overseas. The franchise still may have a hard time digging out of its $185 million production-cost hole.
There was better news for Focus Features’ Harriet, which delighted critics (73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and wowed audiences with an A+ Cinemascore. The film will earn about $12 million this weekend, which is considerably better than what was projected.
The same good news does not extend to Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, which debuted this weekend with a soft $3.6 million on a $26 million price tag, despite OK reviews (63 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). At least, it fared better than Arctic Dogs, the animated film featuring the voice work of Anjelica Huston, James Franco, Jeremy Renner, and Alec Baldwin, among others. The film opened in nearly 3000 theaters but could only muster $3.1 million at the box office. That is a dismal showing, even for an animated film produced on a modest $50 million budget.
In holdover news, Joker came in second this weekend with $13.9 million and $299 million overall. It has also crossed the $900 million mark worldwide with $934 million and may even make a run at $1 billion after an impressive $37 million this weekend overseas. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will end the weekend in fourth place with $12.1 million and $82 million overall. It has also made $298 million worldwide now.
The Addams Family grabs fifth place, earning $8.5 million to bring its total to $85 million. Zombieland: Double Tap scored $7.3 million this weekend to bring its total to $59 million, plus another $27 million overseas. Countdown grabbed another $5.85 million to bring its total to an impressive $17.76 million on only a $6.5 million budget. Black and Blue.
Parasite elevated its screen count to 461 theaters, earning a solid $2.6 million in the process, as it brings its total to $7.5 million.
There will be a crowded roster of films angling to take the top spot next weekend. Ewan McGregor’s The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, will take on Last Christmas, the romcom inspired by the music of George Michael starring Emilia Clarke. Roland Emmerich will try to rebound from a string of disappointments with Midway, and John Cena and Keegan Michael-Key will try to appeal to family audiences with Playing with Fire.