Box Office: Fantastic Four Gets Clobbered, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Retains #1

You might have noticed an increase in traffic with regards to coverage of the theater box office over the weekend. Not the entire box office, just one particular new release: Fantastic Four.

Inside Pulse’s John Babos had no less than seven articles the last few days that covered everything from “breaking box office news” to columns dissecting why it flopped and potential implications and fallout for 20th Century Fox and the future of the franchise.

But is Fantastic Four as bad as critics have labeled it? For that answer, you can read what Scott Sawitz had to say. If you want a spoiler-heavy recap, Eliana Kirshenblat has you covered.

What’s most interesting is the fallout between director Josh Trank and studio 20th Century Fox and the amount of studio interference before, during and after production. Color me not surprised. Next to The Weinstein Company, Fox is notorious with tinkering projects, especially those related to the superhero genre. One only needs to recall 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which Gavin Hood’s film was sabotaged by the suits at Fox. Here was a director who directed the acclaimed South Africa drama Tsotsi and made his American debut a few years later with Rendition starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon. But when he signed on for X-Men Origins, little did he know the contract he was signing. How bad was it? Put it this way. One of the biggest flubs is pointed out by “The Merc with the Mouth” Deadpool in the trailer for his own movie (set to arrive just in time for Valentine’s Day 2016). You know, where he admits to his mouth being sewn shut. Heaven forbid the Merc lay down some truth bombs when talking about the disparity of Wolverine and Hugh Jackman’s height. Am I right?

Any way, back to Fantastic Four. It stumbled out of the gate with Thursday night openings and it never regained its stride. The superhero movie finished the weekend with an estimated haul of $26.2 million. That’s abysmal, pathetic, and not the attraction I thought it would be in my last box office recap. But that was based mainly on the amount of screens that FF4 would take up. A better barometer is the per-screen averages a movie gets in a weekend. And with $6,558 per screen, that couldn’t outperform the film that retained the top spot (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) or Joel Edgerton’s The Gift, which averaged $7,286 at its 1,648 locations.

Overseas, FF4 grossed $34.1 million to bring its overall total to $60.3 million. Still pathetic. How bad is it in terms of superhero openings, you have to go back to Sony’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (also a Marvel-branded film) which opened with $22.1 million.

It will be interesting to see how Fox tries to save face in the coming days. The PR machine is working overtime in trying to turn a positive out of a negative, but with the war of words already levied (with Trank calling out his employers) and Fox’s own actions, now I’m stuck trying to figure out who is Tina and who is Ike in this relationship.

With FF4’s faltering, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation grabbed $29.4 million in its second weekend and only having its audience drop 47%, a very good percentage for a blockbuster. In two weeks it has made $108.6 million US and $265.3 million worldwide. My favorite movie of the weekend, The Gift, opened at $12 million. STX Entertainment is a young studio that opened in 2014 and The Gift is its first theatrical release. Considering its low budget ($5 million) and its first weekend (not to mention the good press it has received from critics), there’s a chance this thriller could stay afloat in the top ten longer than most horror movies.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash had a similar theater count as The Gift, but the turnout was approximately $1,700 less per screen. For actress Meryl Streep that’s the lowest opening she’s had for a film opening at 1600 venues or more since 2007’s Lions for Lambs made $6.7 million its opening weekend on 2,215 screens.

Other highlights: Minions has eclipsed $300 million in the US; Trainwreck is closing in on $100M. Finally, for the specialty box office The End of the Tour added $256k with its screen expansion, and newcomers The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Kevin Bacon’s Cop Car were big hits in limited release with $55k and $27k respectively.

This weekend The Man from U.N.C.L.E. squares off against Straight Outta Compton. For the record, earlier in the summer I bet a local theater manager that in the battle of TV properties U.N.C.L.E. would outgross Entourage during its theatrical run and I stand by that prediction. My basis was on the fact that the spy yarn is directed by Guy Ritchie and he has a strong track record with his films performing well overseas. Plus you also get Superman (Henry Cavill) squaring off against/teaming up with The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer). Still, Straight Outta Compton is likely to take the weekend. Hey, anything to help F. Gary Gray finally get to make the long-rumored TBD Brazilian Job (a sequel to 2003’s The Italian Job) I’m all for it.

And with that, here is the Top 10 films from the past weekend.

01. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation – $29.4 Million ($108.6 mil.)
02. Fantastic Four – $26.2 Million
03. The Gift — $12 Million
04. Vacation — $9.1 Million ($37.3 mil.)
05. Ant-Man – $7.8 Million ($147.4 mil.)
06. Minions – $7.4 Million ($302.7 mil.)
07. Ricki and the Flash – $7 Million
08. Trainwreck – $6.3 Million ($91.1 mil.)
09. Pixels – $5.4 Million ($57.6 mil.)
10. Southpaw – $4.7 Million ($40.7 mil.)

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