When the weekend box office is as close as it was this weekend (with the top three films separated by around $500K), we probably won’t know who really won the weekend until final Monday numbers come in. However, regardless of who actually won the weekend, it looks like Tom Cruise’s American Made will be the loser. It ends the weekend with approximately $17 million, and even if it comes out on top, it’s not exactly a box-office take worth crowing about. The anticipated $17 million gross for the film — based on the the life of Barry Seal, an airline pilot turned drug smuggler turned DEA informant — is the worst Tom Cruise opening since 2012’s Jack Reacher, although that movie did leg out $80 million domestic total and an eventual sequel.
Fortunately for Tom Cruise, he’s a bigger star overseas than in the United States, but this opening isn’t going to add much to the $60 million international take of American Made. Cruise will be lucky to cross $100 million worldwide on the film, which would fall short of profitable on the $50 million film once marketing and the exhibitors’ split is accounted for. It’s a shame, too, because American Made features Cruise’s best performance in years, and while it’s not quite as good as Cruise’s best film this decade, Edge of Tomorrow, the Doug Liman film is still very good (87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Audiences often decry the lack of mid-budget films targeted toward adults, but this is exactly why studios are reluctant to make them: American Made is beloved by critics and audiences (a B+ Cinemascore) and features an A-list star in Cruise, and still it looks to fall short of profitable at the box office (it should do very well on home video, however).
Meanwhile, last week’s number one film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, took around a 55 percent dive, which is par for the course for a movie of this ilk. Studio estimates also put the film at $17 million, which is a virtual tie with American Made. Kingsman has now earned around $130 million internationally and $65 million domestically, but with a $104 million budget, it will also have a hard time breaking even. A third Kingsman movie seems almost out of the question, but then again, a sequel to The Golden Circle was greenlit largely on the success of Secret Service in the home digital market. The Golden Circle could yet find a bigger audience among home viewers, but I have doubts that it will be enough to generate yet another sequel.