‘The Fall Guy’ Box Office Disappointment Hurts More Than Opening Weekend

With ”The Fall Guy” (Universal), summer 2024 box office didn’t kick off; it just sort of happened. It opened to $28.5 million, a 52 percent drop from last year with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” Hopefully, that will be the last precipitous weekend drop (aside from the inevitable “Barbie”/”Oppenheimer” July weekend of $310 million).

This $76 million domestic weekend is bad, but “The Fall Guy” shortfall is worse. Estimates were broad, but worst-case scenarios predicted $30 million. The Ryan Gosling action rom-com had all the earmarks of audience appeal. Whatever its possible limitations — and a $130 million budget — that’s a terrible look to start the summer.

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Despite good reviews, Gosling’s momentum, director David Leitch’s proven box office success, the usually lucrative playdate, and a decent A- Cinemascore, “The Fall Guy” opened to only a little more than $3 million above “Civil War” (A24), April’s best opener.

"The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes"
“The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes”screenshot

One underachieving release doesn’t certify similar results ahead, but it’s cause for major concern. It discourages future non-franchise projects, certainly at this level of expense. It doesn’t adjust the steep year-to-date drop, which now stands at 18 percent. It also elevates the high-performance demands for other major May openings: “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” next week, later “Furiosa,” and “The Garfield Move,” and another original, “IF.”

Each of those is expected to open better than “The Fall Guy,” some by quite a bit, but nothing is a given. We could be in for an even more difficult summer than expected.

Other than a fine showing for the 25th anniversary reissue of “The Phantom Menance” (Disney), which took second place with $8.1 million, little else impressed in the Top 10. “Challengers” (MGM Amazon) dropped 49 percent from an at-best adequate $15 million debut. Weekdays did better than expected compared to its opening.

“Tarot” (Sony), the other new wide release, sputtered with $6.5 million. Sadly, that was good enough for #4. The original horror film also received a horrific C- Cinemascore; at least it only cost $8 million.

“The Fall Guy” had a decent A- Cinemascore, but historically that doesn’t suggest an above-normal trajectory. At best, it projects to $100 million domestic. Worldwide (most territories now open, some in second weekend) added $37 million total. Given a total expense of over $200 million (including marketing), it will be a challenge to break into profit. That’s a big disappointment.

Speaking of Cinemascores, last week’s faith-based “Unsung Hero” (Lionsgate) got a top-of-the-line A+… and in its second weekend it dropped 61 percent. At $3 million, it fell to #7.

“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” (Warner Bros.) and “Civil War” saw decent holds, but at this stage their runs will add only minor amounts to the total gross.

Fred Durst in 'I Saw the TV Glow'
Fred Durst in ‘I Saw the TV Glow’A24

Three new platform openings saw positive initial reactions. A24’s “I Saw the TV Glow” did an impressive $116,000 in four New York/Los Angeles theaters, with slow expansion to come. Ethan Hawke’s Flannery O’Connor biopic “WIldcat,” bolstered by strong personal appearances, took in $58,000 in three similar locations.

Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Evil Does Not Exist” (Sideshow/Janus), his first film since “Drive My Car,” grossed $45,000 in three theaters. That sleeper success debuted in 2021 in two theaters under $14,000 on its way to an unexpected $2.4 million.

The Top 10

1. The Fall Guy (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 73; Est. budget: $130 million

$28,500,000 in 4,002 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,121; Cumulative: $28,500,000

2. The Phantom Menace (Disney) REISSUE

$8,100,000 in 2,700 theaters; PTA: $2,993; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 834,200,000

3. Challengers (Amazon MGM) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$7,642,000 (-49%) in 3,477 (no change) theaters; PTA: $2,198; Cumulative: $29,462,000

4. Tarot (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritic: 35; Est. budget: $8 million

$6,500,000 in 3,104 theaters; PTA: $2,094; Cumulative: $6,500,000

5. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (Warner Bros.) Week 6; Last weekend #3

$4,500,000 (-38%) in 2,884 (-428) theaters; PTA: $1,560; Cumulative: $188,067,000

6. Civil War (A24) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$3,550,000 (-48%) in 2,873 (-645) theaters; PTA: $1,320; Cumulative: $62,006,000

7. Unsung Hero (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$3,000,000 (-61%) in 2,832 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,059; Cumulative: $13,143,000

8. Kung Fu Panda 4 (Universal) Week 9; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$2,400,000 (-33%) in 2,380 (-387) theaters; PTA: $1,008; Cumulative: $188,340,000

9. Abigail (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$2,300,000 (-56%) in 2,638 (-755) theaters; PTA: $872; Cumulative: $22,790,000

10. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #8

$1,800,000 (-45%) in 2,025 (-602) theaters; PTA: $889; Cumulative: $109,903,000

Other specialized/independent titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded.

I Saw the TV Glow (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 85; Festivals include: Sundance, Berlin, South by Southwest 2024

$116,340 in theaters; PTA: $39,085

Wildcat (Oscilloscope) NEW – Metacritic: 51; Festivals include: Telluride, Toronto 2023

$58,140 in 3 theaters; PTA: $19,380

Evil Does Not Exist (Sideshow/Janus) NEW – Metacritic: 83; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2023

$45,300 in 3 theaters; PTA: $15,100

Boy Kills World (Roadside Attractions) Week 2

$247,155 in 1,515 (-478) theaters; PTA: $180; Cumulative: $2,543,000

Nowhere Special (Cohen) Week 2

$31,518 in theaters; PTA: $1,017; Cumulative: $48,330

Humane (IFC) Week 2; also on VOD

$3,544 in 31 (-25) theaters; PTA: $114; Cumulative: $40,014

Spy x Family Code: White (Sony) Week 3

$245,000 in 407 (-1,602) theaters; Cumulative: $7,805,000

Stress Positions (Neon) Week 3 15

$15,700 in 17 (+2) theaters; Cumulative: $89,033

We Grown Now (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$17,372 in 70 (-270) theaters; Cumulative: $254,570

The Long Game (Emick/Mucho Mas) Week 4; also on PVOD

$75,000 in 146 (-195) theaters; Cumulative: $2,941,000

Wicked Little Letters (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$150,000 in 188 (-62) theaters; Cumulative: $4,286,000

La Chimera (Neon) Week 6

$43,103 in 53 (-2) theaters; Cumulative: $711,894

Late Night with the Devil (IFC) Week 7; also on PVOD and streaming

$22,010 in 66 (-209) theaters; Cumulative: $9,924,000

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