Box Office Meltdown: ‘Furiosa’ Edges Past ‘Garfield’ to Win Memorial Day With Worst No. 1 Opening in Three Decades

The Memorial Day box office is no picnic this year. But it was certainly a roller-coaster ride.

Warner Bros.’ Furiosa narrowly beat Alcon and Sony’s The Garfield Movie with an estimated $32 million for the four-day weekend, with George Miller’s latest entry in the Mad Max franchise taking in an estimated $26.3 million for Friday-Sunday versus an estimated $24 million for the animated orange feline.

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Garfield on Sunday claimed victory over Furiosa with an estimated four-holiday gross of $31.9 million but on Monday revised its estimate down to $31.1 million. Warners took the unusual position of not reporting a four-day number until Monday. With the race so close, and the headlines so bad, it’s easy to understand why the studio remained mum.

Despite Furiosa‘s victory, it still came in behind expectations and is the worst Memorial Day No. 1 opener since Casper debuted to $22.5 million nearly 30 years ago in 1995 (and that’s not adjusted for inflation), according to Comscore. This stat excludes 2020, when theaters were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither film aced it with audiences, with each receiving a B+ CinemaScore.

With no holdovers to contribute in a massive way to the Memorial Day box office, overall revenue for the four days plummeted to an estimated $128.3 million, also a 29-year low and down nearly 37 percent from last year, per Comscore.

That excludes 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic was still raging, though Paramount’s A Quiet Place sequel was able to open to $57.1 million over the holiday in 2021.

May has been a brutal start to the summer season as the box office continues to feel the impact of bigger tentpoles being delayed because of last year’s labor strikes. Marvel Studios usually kicks off summer over the first weekend in May with a superhero tentpole, and this year it was going to be Deadpool & Wolverine. Marvel and Disney, however, had to push the film — which had to halt production because of the SAG-AFTRA strike — back by nearly three months to July 26.

Neither Furiosa nor Garfield were ever considered to be the sort of four-quadrant tentpole that generally anchors Memorial Day. Last year, for example, Disney’s The Little Mermaid debuted to $118 million domestically.

Furiosa, a prequel that sees Anya Taylor-Joy play a younger version of Charlize Theron’s titular character in the last film, had been expected to open to $40 million to $45 million for the four-day holiday but instead is the latest summer event pic to underperform in its launch (an exception was The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes).

In 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road started off with a three-day gross of $45.4 million in mid-May. Miller’s new film, which also stars Chris Hemsworth, cost a pricey $168 million to make before marketing. Overseas, Furiosa started off with $32.8 million from 76 markets for a subdued global start of $64.8 million through Monday, meaning it will need strong legs similar to Fury Road if it is to land in the black. So far, it is drawing few females, with males making up 72 percent of the audience in North America.

Garfield, in which the title character is voiced by Chris Pratt, was financed entirely by Alcon. It cost a relatively modest $60 million to produce, and opened in line with expectations. Overseas, where it began rolling out earlier this month, the kids pic earned another $14 million from 51 markets this weekend for a global cume of $91.1 million through Sunday. The movie’s performance has successfully relaunched the franchise, insiders say.

Elsewhere, Angel Studios continues to try to emulate the stunning success of last summer’s Sound of Freedom but so far hasn’t come close to doing so. This weekend, it is opening the faith-adjacent film Sight, which is on course to gross an estimated $3.5 million for the four days for a seventh-place finish.

Back in the top five, IF is holding firmly at No. 3 in its sophomore outing with an estimated four-day gross of $21 million from 4,068 locations for a domestic total of $63.6 million. The family pic’s estimated three-day gross of $16.1 million represents a 52 percent decline, a decent hold considering it is competing with Garfield for families. That’s needed good news for Paramount, director John Krasinski and star Ryan Reynolds after IF‘s soft opening. Moreover, 74 percent of kids say the film exceeds their expectations.

Globally, IF is clearing the $100 million mark after earning another $11.3 million from 64 markets this weekend for a foreign tally of $40 million and an estimated worldwide total of $103.6 million through Monday.

The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes placed No. 4 in its third outing as it nears the $300 million mark in worldwide ticket sales. The 20th Century/Disney tentpole is reporting an estimated four-day gross of $17.2 million for a domestic total of $126.6 million and $298.6 million globally through Monday.

And despite The Fall Guy now being available to rent on premium VOD, its estimated three-tally of $6 million marks a drop of just 28 percent. For the four days, the Ryan Gosling-Emily Blunt starrer rounded out the top five with an estimated $7.7 million for a domestic tally of $73.9 million and $145.5 million globally through Monday.

At the specialty box office, Neon’s Babes cracked the top 10 as it expanded into 589 theaters. The dramedy earned an estimated $1.2 million for the four days for a solid domestic total of $1.5 million through its second Sunday.

A24’s I Saw the TV Glow placed No. 13 as it expanded into 458 theaters, earning a so-so $642,000 for the four days for a domestic cume of $2.8 million.

May 25, 9:45 a.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly said it has been 40 years since a No. 1 Memorial Day movie opened so low.
May 26, 7:35 a.m.: This story has been updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 27, 7:50 a.m.: This story has been updated with revised weekend estimates.

This story was originally published May 25 at 8:40 a.m.

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