We’re coming up on the 4th of July weekend and as in past years, the key to any movie’s success is on what day the actual holiday falls. This year, it falls on a Saturday which probably won’t help much, because anyone who really wants to see either of the two new high-profile releases could easily go see it earlier in the week. One assumes some people might get Friday off from work or leave earlier, which could give that day a nice bump, but the 4th of July weekend itself is more about barbecues and fireworks than movies, which may be why the biggest opening is less than $100 million, that being Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Spider-Man 2 and Despicable Me 2 follow with $88 and 83 million, respectively, but it’s doubtful either of the new movies will come close to those records. Both of the two new movies are opening early on Wednesday, July 1, hoping to get in a bit of business before people go away.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Back in 1984, a little known Canadian filmmaker named James Cameron teamed with Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was coming off his hit Conan the Barbarian, teamed for a sci-fi action-thriller called The Terminator, which quickly became a cult hit despite an odd late October release. It would only gross $38.3 million, but James Cameron would go on to direct two of the highest-grossing blockbusters ever in Titanic and Avatar, while Schwarzenegger would become the Governor of California, but not before they reteamed for 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which grossed $200 million thanks to a 4th of July release, helping to solidify it as one of the duo’s most popular franchises.
The Terminator would appear in comics and other media before Schwarzenegger returned in 2003 for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which didn’t fare nearly as well without Cameron directing, grossing just $150 million despite 12 years of inflation. With Schwarzenegger entering politics, the owner to the rights wanted to keep the franchise alive, so in 2009 they brought on director McG and actor Christian Bale (fresh off his blockbuster The Dark Knight) to relaunch the franchise with it set in the future after Skynet and the machines have taken over. Terminator Salvation opened over Memorial Day weekend to a disappointing $51.9 million over the four-day weekend and ended up grossing just $125 million domestic based on a $200 million budget. Fortunately, it grossed twice that amount worldwide but it was still barely profitable, and it’s not good when a movie is making less money after a nine-year absence especially when you consider ticket price inflation.
After years of negotiating and suing over the rights, they decided to give the franchise another go, bringing back Arnold and teaming him with a bunch of hot up and comers, including director Alan Taylor and his “Game of Thrones” starlet Emilia Clarke, who is finally trying to make a mark in movies. It also stars Matt Smith, best known as the 11th Doctor, Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), who Hollywood is desperately trying to turn into a star, as the latest Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke (no relation) as the new John Connor.
This is Paramount Pictures’ first foray into the world of the Terminator following Sony Tristar, Warner Bros. and Orion Pictures (which has mysteriously returned as a distributor in the last year). Paramount has had a number of big franchises, including Michael Bay’s Transformers, which was one of the most consistent blockbuster franchises until last year’s installment. They also have successfully relaunched the Star Trek franchise in the last seven years making them even more popular than they were in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The last “Terminator” movie to open over the 4th of July was Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, the last installment with Schwarzenegger, and that grossed $72.3 million after opening on Tuesday night similar to Genisys. With the inflation on ticket prices and the added amount for 3D and IMAX tickets, one can expect that if everyone who went to see Rise of the Machines goes to see Genisys, then it will have a much more substantial opening in its first five-and-a-half days.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been doing what he does best, making the rounds to promote the movie, and he still has enough of a fanbase that his fans should be excited about him returning to his most popular character.
Paramount and the producers are hoping to revive the franchise and make two other movies (neither of which have been scheduled, which is kind of telling), but one has to assume that they’re relying heavily on international box office to make the movie profitable since American moviegoers tend to be far more cynical.
Paramount has been marketing the hell out of the movie, including a spot during the Super Bowl and a big push during WWE’s annual Wrestlemania, which means awareness is definitely where it should be, especially among the male target audience. The film is rated PG-13, which should also help it bring in younger males than it would with an R rating, although that shouldn’t be so surprising in this day and age.
The film is written by Laeta Kalogridis who was involved with the development of Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar and has been developing an adaptation of the anime Battle Angel Alita with him. Cameron has also recently given his thumbs up to Terminator Genisys as a suitable sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, although there’s a good chance he gets a percent of the profits from any “Terminator” movie, so why would he say anything disparaging about it?
This summer, we already had the return of Mad Max, which was a relative success (more critically than commercially), and then one of the biggest movies of the summer is Jurassic World, another direct reboot/relaunch much like Terminator Genisys. This makes you think that nostalgia is playing a large factor in driving people to the movie theaters and it seems like a good time for “Terminator” to be brought back until you start realizing all the…
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career has been in the toilet since he ended his tenure as Governor of California, although his return for Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables and its 2012 sequel were a promising start. His next movie, 2013’s The Last Stand bombed and his reteaming with Stallone for Escape Plan didn’t far much better, topping out at $25 million, nor did last year’s Sabotage, which grossed an abysmal $10 million.
Unfortunately, none of the rest of the cast really have much of a track record at the box office with neither Emilia Clarke nor Matt Smith having shown they can bring fans of their shows into theaters. It’s not like the marketing is focusing on them as much as it is Schwarzenegger, which might be the biggest mistake.
The Terminator franchise has shown consistent drops from one movie to the next since the blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which isn’t a good sign that the premise has withstood the test of time. One would assume that the return of Schwarzenegger (and higher ticket prices) would give Genisys a boost, but if moviegoers are already sick of these movies, nothing will help it.
It doesn’t help that the movie’s title is absolutely awful, even worse than Terminator Salvation, and one wonders why someone would give the thumbs up to such a bad title. Granted, “Skyfall” was a similarly-bad title for a damn good movie so maybe they’re trying to lower expectations by giving it such a crappy name.
Reviews so far are not very good either and as usual, Paramount is playing games in terms of showing the movie to critics. New York critics mostly didn’t get a chance to see it until Monday morning with about 30 hours before the movie’s release to post reviews, maybe because Paramount already know reviews won’t be good. Whether bad reviews hurt the movie will have to be seen since some fans might want to decide for themselves, but it will hurt the movie’s legs (even going into its first weekend) if it’s not good.
There’s a lot more frontloading these days than when Terminator 3 was released 12 years ago, and that might mean more business on Tuesday through Thursday and less on the actual weekend.
Terminator: Genisys probably will make $3 to 4 million on Tuesday which will be added to Wednesday for a first-day total of $12 to 14 million. It should then drop a little bit on Thursday but pick up again on Friday with many people getting out of work early for the 4th of July weekend. Friday should be its biggest day for the weekend though and it probably will end up in the high $30 millions for the weekend and around $55 million or more including Wednesday and Thursday, which would still be lower than Terminator 3 despite 12 years of inflation. With that sort of opening, it will be lucky if it makes the $125 million of Terminator Salvation but it should be able to do that amount since there isn’t a lot of strong competition next weekend.
Magic Mike XXL
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Back in 2012, actor Channing Tatum had achieved a new status as a box office star, so when he and his production partner Reid Carolyn pitched the idea of a semi-autobiographical story based on Tatum’s past as a dancer, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh came on board as did Warner Bros., the latter in hopes that Tatum’s popularity among the ladies would get them into theaters to see his semi-nude dancing. The plan worked and Magic Mike opened with $39.1 million in late June 2012 against Seth MacFarlane’s Ted and went on to gross $113.7 million domestic and another $53.5 million overseas.
Considering it only cost $7 million to make, it was the sort of profitable hit that warranted doing a sequel and so we’re getting Magic Mike XXL, which reunites all of the original cast except for Matthew McConaughey (whose own status exploded around the time of Magic Mike leading up to him winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club in 2014). Soderbergh is back but only as a producer and cinematographer (!) allowing his producing partner Greg Jacobs to step in as director.
While Soderbergh’s absence is noticeable, this really is all about Tatum who has achieved quite a bit of success in recent years including the comedy hits 21 Jump Street and its sequel 22 Jump Street with Jonah Hill, plus Tatum also provided a voice for last year’s hit The LEGO Movie.
He’s helped by a supporting cast that includes Joe Manganiello, AKA Mr. Sofia Vergara, who has become more popular since appearing on HBO’s “True Blood” and Matt Bomer, who was nominated for an Emmy and won a Golden Globe for his role in HBO’s “The Normal Heart.” The great cast also includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabriel Iglesias and Donald Glover, who could help bring in a more diverse audience.
More than the first movie, Magic Mike XXL is being given a push to African-American and Latina audiences in hopes of bringing out the women who may not be as interested in some of the other movies in theaters and are generally being underserved.
It’s hard to believe that women are just as shallow as men when it comes to semi-naked men, but hey, that’s mainly what’s going to drive them to see this movie over other things. Magic Mike XXL won’t just be bringing out women because presumably gay men will be just as interested in the sequel for the same reason. (This is also one of the reasons why it seemed like an odd decision to open over 4th of July rather than releasing it a week earlier against Ted 2, since it could have been a good date movie over Gay Pride weekend.)
Channing Tatum may still be considered an A-list Hollywood star thanks to his boost from last year’s hit 22 Jump Street, but earlier this year, his sci-fi action film Jupiter Ascending, directed by the Wachowskis, bombed, grossing $47.4 million after opening with $18.3 million. Tatum’s acclaimed performance in last year’s Foxcatcher failed to get awards attention despite five Oscar nominations (it won zero) and it only grossed $18 million despite mostly rave reviews. Tatum’s 2013 summer release White House Down, which teamed him with Roland Emmerich, also failed to do as well as expected, grossing just $73 million despite a prime pre-4th of July release. So despite having a number of hits under his belt, Tatum’s track record isn’t perfect.
Opening the movie over the 4th of July weekend might not be the smartest move since it tends to be a weekend about family and this isn’t the type of movie that women would see with their families, but is one more likely to see with friends and co-workers. This is partially why it’s more likely that it does big business on Tuesday through Thursday and could drop dramatically over the weekend.
Going by the showing for Ted 2, moviegoers are already tiring of the number of sequels being thrown their way, and despite the promise of beefcake, this sequel’s potential could be hindered by being released so late in the summer compared to something like Pitch Perfect 2 (which isn’t much better).
Being a sequel, I don’t expect reviews to be nearly as positive as they were for the original movie, which scored 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think Magic Mike XXL will be lucky to achieve a 50% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, partially because Soderbergh and McConaughey aren’t around to give the film the prestige of the original.
This is the type of movie that should do huge business out of the gate, but it also could do most of its business in its first week, and possibly even more on Wednesday and Thursday than the weekend. An $11 to 12 million opening day is certainly achievable with a big drop on Thursday, so it will be going into the weekend with less than $20 million but probably can pick up a little business on Friday then drop again on Saturday/Sunday. Figure on around $45 million or so in its first five days with less than $30 million of that being over the weekend.
This Weekend Last Year
Last 4th of July was one of those mixed bag weekends where none of the studios dared to take on the 2nd weekend of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, which remained at #1 despite a 63% drop-off taking it down to $37 million. Taking on the giant robots was Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy (Warner Bros.), which opened on Wednesday with $6.2 million and added another $5.5 million on Thursday and then $21.6 million in its first weekend, which wasn’t bad considering it cost $20 million. Sinister director Scott Derrickson’s latest horror film Deliver Us From Evil (Sony/Screen Gems) opened in fourth place, just behind the comedy hit 22 Jump Street, with $9.7 million over the weekend. Kind of like a found-footage Amblin movie, Earth to Echo (Relativity Media) opened the weakest with just $8.4 million in 3,230 theaters or $2,589 per location, not even enough to get it into the Top 5. With such weak offerings, the Top 10 grossed just $115 million, which should be easy to beat even if the two new movies do a lot of their business on Tuesday through Thursday.
This Week’s Predictions
While both of the two new wide releases should make an impact, opening on Tuesday night will mean that many of the fans of the earlier movies will be out earlier in the week while Friday should get a nice bump as many will be taking the day off from work. Even so, the two powerhouse returning movies should give both new movies a run for their money once the weekend hits and it’s doubtful both new movies will end up in the Top 3. UPDATE: Apparently, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl will be expanding into 750 theaters on Wednesday so expect that to break into the low end of the Top 10.
1. Terminator Genisys (Paramount) – $38.6 million N/A
It would be a slow weekend if not for the juggernaut animated movie spin-off that is Minions (Universal), which should be enormous, but there are also a couple of smaller movies like the latest Blumhouse horror movie The Gallows (Universal) and the Ryan Reynolds/Ben Kingsley sci-fi thriller Self/less (Gramercy/Focus).
This Week’s Must-Sees
Lots of docs this week and unfortunately the one I didn’t see is likely to be the best of them, because I’ve heard nothing but good things about Amy, the Amy Winehouse doc by Senna director Asif Kapadia, so I’m including it as a Must-See although I personally haven’t seen it yet.
Jimmy’s Hall (Sony Pictures Classics)
Cartel Land (The Orchard)
Other Limited Releases of Note:
Not sure if it’s coincidence (or if it’s just to coincide with Independence Day), but there are two movies dealing with the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. opening this weekend.
Faith of our Fathers (Pure Flix, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures)
Stray Dog (Still Rolling Productions)
Mala Mala (Strand Releasing)
Jackie & Ryan (Entertainment One)
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Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas[Gallery not found]