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Talk about complete concept rejection.
Skydance, Paramount and Fox/Disney’s Terminator: Dark Fate reboot — which hoped to revive the franchise after three failed attempts — bombed in its domestic box office debut over the weekend with $29 million from 4,086 theaters, well behind expectations though still bowing at No. 1.
Not even the return of James Cameron in the producer’s chair and original series stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger could spark interest among many fans and the general moviegoing public.
Nor is the movie likely to be rescued by the foreign box office, where it finished Sunday with an offshore tally of $94.6 million (including a lackluster China launch of $28 million) for a global total of $123.6 million (it first began rolling out overseas last weekend).
A direct sequel to Cameron’s Terminator: Judgment Day (1991), the R-rated Dark Fate was directed by Deadpool helmer Tim Miller and cost a hefty $185 million to produce before marketing. Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta also star.
Dark Fate, in addition to putting the Terminator franchise back on ice, faces losses of $120 million-plus for partners Skydance, Paramount and Disney/Fox (Disney inherited the movie and is handling its release abroad). China’s Tencent has a smaller stake.
“It is time to let this franchise finally go to the great beyond,” says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners.
The movie’s dismal opening is the second pricey miss in a row for David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount following Ang Lee’s big-budget Gemini Man.
Dark Fate received mixed-to-OK reviews (it has a 69 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), while earning a B+ CinemaScore from audiences. The film skewed male (56 percent), while 78 percent of the audience was between the ages of 18-44, including 33 percent between ages 24-34.
Heading into the weekend, the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise was tracking to bow in the high $30 million to low $40 million range domestically.
The only new nationwide release of the weekend to impress was Focus Features’ Harriet, which stars Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, the courageous Underground Railroad conductor who became a hero of the anti-slavery movement.
Kasi Lemmons directed the bio-drama, which opened to a better-than-expected $12 million from 2,059 theaters. Harriet benefited from playing to a diverse audience in terms of ethnicity, led by African-Americans (49 percent) and followed by Caucasians (36 percent), Hispanics (8 percent) and Asian/Other (7 percent), according to PostTrak.
Focus and parent company Universal scored another key victory over the weekend as Downton Abbey hit $178.6 million at the global box office to become one of the top-grossing releases in Focus’ history. Universal’s Yesterday, a smaller title, also crossed $150 million worldwide.
Warner Bros.’ Motherless Brooklyn, directed by Edward Norton, bombed in its debut, grossing just $3.7 million from 1,332 theaters. The adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel about a New York detective with Tourette syndrome stars Norton alongside Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Motherless Brookyn is the latest miss for Warners in terms of more specialized fare, such as this summer’s Blinded by the Light.
The weekend’s fourth new nationwide film, Arctic Dogs, also lost its way, opening to $3.1 million from 2,844 locations. The pic is from Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.
Warners still had plenty to celebrate on Sunday as Todd Phillips’ Joker crossed the $900 million mark at the global box office. The film, which achieved the milestone on Saturday, finished the frame with a worldwide cume of $934 million.
In North America, Joker placed second — after its fifth weekend in release — with $13.9 million for a domestic tally of $299.6 million. Overseas, it has earned $634.4 million to date.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil came in third domestically with $12.2 million for a North American total of $84.3 million. It continues to do far bigger business overseas, where it earned $40.5 million for a foreign cume of $298.9 million and $383.2 million globally.
The Addams Family, from MGM/United Artists Releasing and Universal, rounded out the top five with $8.5 million for a domestic tally of $85.3 million and global cume of $129.3 million (Universal is handling the pic overseas).
At the awards box office, Netflix isn’t reporting grosses for Martin Scorsese’s high-profile Oscar hopeful The Irishman, which opened over the weekend in eight theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It will continue to expand into additional markets before premiering Nov. 27 on the streamer.
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