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In a major blow for 20th Century Fox’s plan to secure the fate of a key franchise, controversial director Josh Trank‘s Fantastic Four opened to a dismal $26.2 million from 3,995 theaters at the North American box office after being rejected by critics and audiences alike.
That’s one of the lowest openings of all time for a big-budget studio superhero movie, and, in a twist Hollywood didn’t see coming, the $120 million tentpole lost the weekend crown to holdover Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, starring Tom Cruise. Rogue Nation fell a mere 48 percent in its second weekend to $29.4 million from 3,988 theaters for a domestic total of $109.5 million for partners Paramount and Skydance Productions (M:I continues to be buoyed by strong Imax numbers).
Overseas, where Hollywood tentpoles often make up ground, the news was mostly grim as Fantastic Four launched to a tepid $34.1 million from 43 markets for a global bow of $60.3 million (one standout market was Mexico with $5.1 million). Rogue Nation was easily the winner internationally as well, taking in another $65.5 million as expanded into a total of 58 territories for a foreign cume of $156.7 million and global haul of $265.3 million.
Fantastic Four was no doubt hurt by scathing reviews and a C- CinemaScore, as well as drama whipped up by the director. On Thursday, Trank, who was tasked with rebooting the franchise after making Chronicle for Fox, tweeted that the final version of the superhero movie was not his own and that his version would have gotten better notices. (He later deleted the tweet.)
The Hollywood Reporter revealed in May that Trank’s behavior and unusual conduct on set was a cause of great concern for the studio and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker. There were also reshoots to shore up the third act, according to insiders.
Heading into the weekend, Fantastic Four was expected to clear at least $40 million, although many expected it to approach $50 million. No one’s sure what the film’s start means for the sequel, which is already dated for June 2017.
“While we’re disappointed, we remain committed to these characters and we have a lot to look forward to in our Marvel universe,” said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, declining to comment specifically on Fantastic Four 2.
There’s been speculation that Fox could incorporate the Fantastic Four characters into the X-Men series. Fox is also in the midst of launching two new superhero franchises based on Marvel characters; Deadpool and Gambit.
Fantastic Four came in well behind the first two films, Fantastic Four ($56.1 million) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($58.1 million). The $120 million film, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, will mark one of the worst debuts for a Marvel Comics film adaptation. In 2012, Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance, from Sony, launched to $22.1 million (that movie cost notably less to make).
In terms of a big-budget superhero movie, Marvel or otherwise, Fantastic Four did even less than 2011 flop The Green Hornet ($33.5 million).
Elsewhere, The Gift, Joel Edgerton‘s directorial debut, placed No. 3 with $12 million from 2,503 theaters and skewed female (53 percent).
The Gift — a throwback to psychological thrillers including Fatal Attraction — is the first box-office test for Bob Simonds‘ STX Entertainment and is being boosted by stellar reviews. Edgerton also stars in the Blumhouse film as a man with an unhealthy fixation on an old schoolmate (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Rebecca Hall). Jason Blum produced alongside Rebecca Yeldham and Edgerton.
Weekend Box Office
|1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation||$28.5M||$107.8M||3,988||2|
|2. Fantastic Four||$25.7M||$25.7M||3,995||1|
|3. The Gift||$11.9M||$11.9M||2,503||1|
|7. Ricki and the Flash||$6.6M||$6.6M||1,603||1|
“We’re over the moon,” said STX distribution chief Kevin Grayson, adding that The Gift isn’t playing like a typical Blumhouse title, many of which are front-loaded and drop Friday to Saturday. In this case, traffic jumped 10 percent from Friday to Saturday.
Jonnathan Demme‘s Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep, placed No. 7 in its debut with $7 million from 1,603 theaters (numbers from Sony weren’t immediately available). That’s among one of the lowest nationwide openings for a Streep film, although the movie’s theater count is modest and its location average ($4,367) isn’t that far behind The Gift‘s. Still, the verdict is out, and much will depend upon how Ricki fares when it expands into more theaters next weekend, when it will be playing in more than 2,000 locations.
Streep returns to theaters as a rocker with dashed dreams and a troubled family life in the $18 million TriStar/Sony film, the first from Tom Rothman since arriving at the studio. He made the film when running specialty division TriStar; earlier this year, he was named chairman of Sony Pictures. Ricki was fueled by older females (70 percent).
“This a good start for us, and bodes well the longevity this film will have,” Sony worldwide distribution chief Rory Bruer said.
This weekend’s fourth new offering is animated film Shaun the Sheep, from Aardman Entertainment and Lionsgate. A spinoff of the hugely successful, dialogue-free British TV series, the film, which opened Wednesday and earned a B+ CinemaScore, placed No. 11 with $4 million from 2,320 theaters for the weekend. Its five-day total since debuting Wednesday is $5.6 million.
Back in the top 10, Vacation placed No. 4 in its second weekend, declining a slim 38 percent to $9.1 million for a 12-day domestic total of $37.7 million. Disney and Marvel’s superhero entry Ant-Man, which crossed $300 million worldwide last week, followed with $7.8 million domestically for a global cume of $326.3 million through Sunday, including $147.4 million domestically and $178.9 million internationally.
Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions continued to make headlines, crossing $300 million domestically and $600 million internationally for a global gross of $912.5 million through Sunday. Overseas, it has earned $609.8 million to date, passing up Despicable Me 2 ($607.8 million).
Remaining the dominant player internationally for the second weekend in a row, Rogue Nation opened to a stellar $6.5 million in India, breaking several records. It was the highest debut ever for a Cruise film, a Paramount title and a Mission: Impossible movie. And in Russia, it was also the biggest debut ever for the series or for any film starring Cruise with $5.5 million. Generally speaking, Rogue Nation is pacing well ahead of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol in numerous countries.
At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, opened to $54,525 from four screens for a location average of $13,631, the best of the weekend. The dramedy, debuting at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, stars Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, Bel Powley and Christopher Meloni.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, directed by Salma Hayek and based on the celebrated book, also debuted, launching in two theaters to $22,601 for a theater average of $13,300. The animated film made its world premiere in May at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and is being distributed in the U.S. by GKids.
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