Box Office: The TERMINATOR franchise dies a sad death, as JOKER nears $300 million

Welcome to the Beat’s Weekend Box Office Recap!

November did not start out with a bang as some may have hoped, even if it’s usually meant to be the start of the otherwise lucrative holiday movie season. Part of that may have been due to Halloween falling on Thursday night, and I’m sure some will point fingers at the newly-launched Apple TV+ on Friday, but maybe people just didn’t want to see any of the new movies.

Regardless, things weren’t good for Paramount’s Terminator: Dark Fate, the third attempt to reboot the franchise in the past ten years, this time by bringing back original star Linda Hamilton and filmmaker James Cameron to produce. Deadpool director Tim Miller came on board to bring his experience with action and visual FX, and new cast members Mackenzie Davis, Natalia ReyesGabriel Luna and Diego Boneta were brought on to give Dark Fate a distinctly new feel. Arnold Schwarzenegger was back, as well. Reviews were significantly better than 2015’s Terminator: Genisys, as critics gave Dark Fate a 69% Fresh compared to the 27% Rotten for Genisys and 33% for its 2009 predecessor, Terminator: Salvation. Everything was in place for Dark Fate to revive the franchise… but nobody cared, so fewer people showed up to see the movie than Genisys.

After making $2.3 million in Thursday previews, Dark Fate won Friday with $10.6 million, almost three times as much as the #2 movie that day. Even so, the latest “Terminator” movie ended up with an estimated $29 million in over 4,000 theaters or $7,000 per theater.  That’s just $2 million more than what Genisys made in its summer 2015 release into 300 fewer theaters, and that movie went on to make just $89.7 million domestic on a $155 million budget.

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Fortunately, that movie also added another $342.4 million overseas, but Dark Fate cost $185 million, and it’s also had a slower going overseas. Although it made $72.9 million in international markets this weekend, including $28 million in China, Dark Fate has quite a ways to go with just $94.6 million made internationally and $123.6 million globally. Of course, that’s just in its first week or so in theaters, but it’s going to be hard for Dark Fate to even hit $100 million domestically with so many stronger movies to come.

This may very well be the last time we see someone trying to make another “Terminator” terminator in a VERY long time, even though audiences seemed to like it as much as any other installment, giving the movie a stereotypical “B+” on CinemaScore. (Only 1991’s Terminator 2 has scored higher than that with its “A+” rating.)

One of those stronger movies mentioned above is Warner Bros’ Doctor Sleep, which opened in nine international markets a week early to put $5.6 million in the kitty before the movie’s North American release on Friday. The U.K. was the movie’s top grosser for the movie with $1.9 million.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ Joker movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix, continues to motor along in its fifth weekend in theaters, remaining in second place with $13.9 million, down just 28% from last weekend. It is currently at $299.6 million domestically, which means it’s likely to hit the $300 milestone sometime on Monday. That will make it the seventh movie in 2019 to cross that benchmark with a couple other strong contenders still to come over the next two months. Joker has grossed $634 million internationally, including another $37 million this weekend, which puts its worldwide total close to the billion mark. Not bad for a “comic book movie” that’s been so divisive and even controversial.

Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, starring Angelina Joliedropped to third place with $12.2 million, down 37%, with a three week gross of $84.3 million, and there’s a good chance it can at least make $100 million domestically.

The big surprise of the weekend had to be the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, starring Tony-winner Cynthia Erivo, who appeared in last year’s Bad Times at the El Royale. Focus Features opened the historic drama in 2,059 theaters on Friday, which is quite a risk for a genre that tends to do better platforming in a few cities then expanding from there. Co-starring Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) and directed by Kasi Lemmons, the drama made $600,000 in Thursday previews but really blew up on Friday with $3.9 million, leading to an estimated $12 million for the weekend in fourth place. Harriet is the second biopic to break out big-time after Judy (as in Garland), which is likely to put Renée Zellwegger in the Oscar race, possibly against Erivo.  Harriet also received a very rare “A+” CinemaScore, meaning that audiences liked it even more than critics, going by its 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

MGM’s The Addams Family animated movie dropped to fifth place with $8.5 million (down just 29%), and that has grossed $85.3 million and will also try to make a play for $100 million.

Sony’s sequel Zombieland: Double Tap took sixth place with $7.3 million, having grossed $59.3 million in three weeks.

Seventh and eight place went to last week’s debut movies, STXfilms’ Countdown with $5.9 million (down 34%) and Screen Gem’s police thriller Black and Blue with $4 million (down 52%), and they’re both enjoying their last weekends in the top 10 with less than $20 million each.

Edward Norton‘s crime-drama Motherless Brooklyn, a star-studded ensemble piece with  a cast that included Bruce WillisAlec BaldwinWillem DafoeGugu Mbatha-Raw and  more, was given a moderate release by Warner Bros. into 1,342 theaters. The studio must have realized that Norton’s passion project was going to be a hard sell, and sure enough, it ended the weekend with an estimated $3.7 million to take ninth place. That’s around $2,700 per theater and probably the best the movie might have done even if given a limited release.

That wasn’t the biggest bomb of the weekend, though, as that would be Entertainment Studios’ animated Arctic Dogs, featuring a similarly star-studded voice cast (also including Baldwin), but the kiddies didn’t care enough to see it as it tanked with just $3.1 million over 3,000 theaters. That’s a per-theater-average of $1,090 per venue, which may be one of the worst of the year, and definitely one of the worst for such a wide release.

There were even more interesting development just outside the top 10 this weekend as critical festival favorites like Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite, Taika Waititi‘s Jojo Rabbit and Robert Eggers‘ The Lighthouse all continued to expand.

Parasite remained just outside the top 10 as NEON expanded it into 461 theaters, where it made $2.6 million or $5,705 per theater. Fox Searchlight expanded the dark comedy Jojo Rabbit into 256 theaters where it made $2.4 million or $9,379 per theater. Both these movies are still going strong after four and three weekends in theaters, respectively, and it will be interesting to see when their distributors will push them into 1,000 theaters or more. Both are expected to be in the awards conversations that will begin in earnest in early December.

Coming closer to that 1,000 theater count bar was The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, which A24 put into 978 theaters, yet it saw a 33% drop to $2 million after making it into the top 10 last weekend.

This Week’s Top 10: 

Rank Last Week Rank Movie Studio Weekend Gross % Change Total Gross
1 New Terminator: Dark Fate Paramount $29 million N/A $29 million
2 2 Joker Warner Bros. $13.9 million -28% $299.6 million
3 1 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Walt Disney $12.2 million -37% $84.3 million
4 New Harriet Focus Features $12 million N/A $12 million
5 3 The Addams Family U.A. Releasing $8.5 million -29% $85.3 million
6 4 Zombieland: Double Tap Sony $7.3 million -38% $59.3 million
7 5 Countdown STXfilms $5.9 million -34% $17.8 million
8 13 Black and Blue Screen Gems/Sony $4.1 million -52% $15.4 million
9 New Motherless Brooklyn New Line/WB $3.7 million N/A $3.7 million
10 New Arctic Dogs Entertainment Studios $3.1 million  N/A $3.1 million

Last year’s top 10 grossed over $30 million more than this weekend with Fox’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Oscar-winner Rami Malek, opening at #1 with $51 million i.e. more than all four of this week’s new releases. Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms took second place with $20.3 million, and the Tiffany Haddish comedy Nobody’s Fool took third place with $13.7 million. Still, a much better start to November than this weekend’s offerings.

Check back on Wednesday for my weekly Box Office Preview as Doctor Sleep, the sequel to Stephen King‘s The Shining, takes on the holiday rom-com Last Christmas and Roland Emmerich‘s Midway.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is truly the dog days for movies. I haven’t gone to a theater since I saw JOKER and AD ASTRA a month ago.

    Can’t wait for THE LIGHTHOUSE to expand to more theaters. That one I will see (if I can).

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