After Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 dominated last weekend by selling 85 percent of all tickets, this was supposed to be the summer’s first competitive weekend at the box office with Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Amy Schumer’s Snatched taking on the second weekend of Guardians.
It wasn’t even close.
Guardians Vol. 2 dropped almost 60 percent in its second weekend, and still nearly quadrupled its closest competition, pulling in $62 million at the weekend box office, to bring its domestic total to $245 million, while its worldwide total is expected to be more than $600 million by the end of the weekend. It has an outside shot now of joining the $1 billion club. Marvel has now dominated not just the first weekend of May nine out of the last 11 years, but the second weekend, as well.
Typically, studios attempt to counter-program against Marvel in that second weekend (with movies like Hot Pursuit, George Clooney’s Money Madness, or even The Great Gatsby). Sometimes, however, studios use that slot to dump their big budget offerings. Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, for instance, was pummeled by the second weekend of Marvel’s The Avengers back in 2012. The completely forgotten Priest met the same fate in 2011 against Thor, and Robin Hood got demolished by Iron Man 2 in 2010. Head-to-head against Marvel’s second weekend never works, although counter-programming has had some success (see Bridesmaids vs. Thor in 2011).
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword can probably be considered a dump job — maybe the dump job of 2017. Buzz for the film has never been particularly high, and interest at the box office in King Arthur stories has been nonexistent (same for Robin Hood and other movies from the medieval times genre). King Arthur had little chance even before the dreadful reviews began rolling in (it sits at 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and it’s curious why Warner Bros. would even sink $175 million into a underperforming genre from a director, Guy Ritchie, who quite frankly has never had a huge hit outside of the Sherlock Holmes franchise. His last film, Man from U.N.C.L.E., may be a huge cult favorite now, but it only mustered $110 million worldwide on a $75 million budget. And yet, U.N.C.L.E. still has a better shot at a sequel than Arthur, which the WB had hoped to turn into a franchise.
Alas, King Arthur looks to come in at number three this weekend with less than $15 million, all the more embarrassing for Warner Brothers because it sunk $175 million into the film’s budget (before marketing and advertising expenses). Worldwide box office may salvage King Arthur to some extent, but this is looking like a Lone Ranger-sized bomb. There’s a lot of reasons for it — Charlie Hunnam can’t open a movie, Guy Ritchie is style over substance, bad marketing — but really, the blame for this lies on the studio, which unwisely decided to spend $175 million on a King Arthur story that no one had any interest in.
This weekend’s counter-programming effort, Snatched, fared slightly better, especially against expectations. Fox had hoped to pair Amy Schumer with Goldie Hawn — in her first feature film in 15 years — and gain some quick Mother’s Day cash. It worked. Sort of. The film came in at number two with $16 million (though Fox had hoped for closer to $20 million), which isn’t too bad for a movie as terrible as Snatched. It doesn’t help that social media has soured on Schumer in recent years (her defense of Kurt Metzger didn’t help) or that stand-up special on Netflix was panned even before white nationalists tanked her star rating on Netflix. It will be interesting to see if this is a blip for Amy Schumer or a sign of what is to come for her career. Some have suggested that Schumer could be this era’s Dane Cook: A stand-up comedian who shot to stratospheric heights before quickly flaming out.
King Arthur was such a huge bomb this weekend that barely anyone has noticed that Doug Liman also put out a dud. The Doug Liman directed The Wall — starring John Cena and Aaron Johnson — opened in 500 theaters but managed less than $1 million at the box office. The film has received decent reviews, but little buzz. It’s unusual to see a movie from a director as big as Liman come and go, but perhaps Amazon has bigger plans for The Wall on its streaming service.
The rest of the weekend was holdovers, none of which performed particularly well, except for a movie called The Lowriders, which surprised with nearly $3 million after opening in less than 300 theaters. That’s not bad for a film that cost less than $1 million to produce. Unsurprisingly, it’s from Blumhouse Productions.
Next weekend’s Alien: Covenant should knock Guardians off its perch, while counter-programming efforts Everything, Everything and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul will battle it out for the third spot.