The most famous line from the ‘Terminator’ movies is “I’ll be back,” but audiences have responded, “Don’t bother!” Just like ‘Alien’, ‘Predator’, ‘Die Hard’, ‘RoboCop’ and others, it looks like this is another ancient intellectual property that the public doesn’t care about anymore. Just last week, ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ was projected to open in the $41-47 million range, based on ticket pre-sales and online buzz. Unfortunately, it only took in $29M, just barely more than the $27M that ‘Terminator: Genisys’ made on its opening weekend in 2015, and that’s considered a massive failure. In fact, a $40M opening would have been poor, due to this movie’s budget and the stakes involved. ‘Genisys’ was planned as the first film of a trilogy. So was ‘Dark Fate’.
In fact, the rotten reception to ‘Genisys’ is sort of what led to ‘Dark Fate’, a reboot that was meant to erase ‘Genisys’ and all other ‘Terminator’ movies after the first two. This was billed as a direct sequel to 1991’s ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ with Paramount, the cast, and the filmmakers telling audiences to ignore everything that came after that. But the thing is, those later, lesser films did happen, and the last disappointment just came out a few years ago. Just saying they are no longer canon doesn’t go back in time like the titular killer robots and remove them from history.
Of course, some old school brands have managed to make strong comebacks. Last year’s ‘Halloween’ was critically acclaimed and a huge box office hit. ‘Dark Fate’ followed a lot of the elements that made that reboot successful. Past director, James Cameron, returned in a producer capacity, just as John Carpenter did for ‘Halloween’. And while ‘Halloween’ welcomed back Jamie Lee Curtis, Linda Hamilton returned for ‘Dark Fate’. Yet, for whatever reason, mixing the same ingredients didn’t lead to the same financial result– ‘Halloween’ took in $77.5M in its opening weekend.
It doesn’t appear that ‘Dark Fate’ is a terrible movie. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 69%. That’s not a slam dunk, but it’s enough to qualify as fresh. Audiences are also not wowed, but they are positive, giving it a B+ CinemaScore, and 3½ stars out of 5 via PostTrak.
On top of the fact that this is just a worn-out property, it appears that a leaked early plot twist turned some fans off, while some males are not pleased that this ‘Terminator’ focuses on three women.
This marks back-to-back expensive failures for Paramount/Skydance, following ‘Gemini Man’ which is now expected to lose $80M after a horrible global box office take of a paltry $160M.
And just as in the case of ‘Gemini Man’, it doesn’t look like the foreign market will save this, as it has in the past when it came to big-budget action movies. ‘Dark Fate’ only took in $28.2M in China, the second-largest market in the world. Much like in the U.S., it was being eyed to make $40-$50M on its opening there. With the U.S. included, this movie has made $123.6M. The only major country where it hasn’t opened is Japan, where it isn’t expected to do much, seeing as how ‘Genisys’ only made $22M there.
As for the rest of the Top Five, ‘Joker’ is still holding strong, with $13.9M, while ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ took the #3 spot with $12.1M, narrowly edging out new historical drama ‘Harriet’ which delivered toward the top of projections, with $12M. Audiences love it, giving it an A+ CinemaScore and 4½ stars via PostTrak. Critics aren’t as enthusiastic, with its Rotten Tomatoes score at 71%.
And ‘The Addams Family’ continues to be the family movie of choice, hanging in with $8.5M, while animated new release ‘Arctic Dogs’ barely made a ripple earning only $3.1M.
- Terminator: Dark Fate (Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox) – $29M
- Joker (Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow/Bron Films) – $13.9M
- Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney) – $12.1M
- Harriet (Focus Features) – $12M
- The Addams Family (MGM/UAR) – $8.5M
Next week sees the release of several movies that could prove to be hits. There is the Stephen King adaptation ‘Doctor Sleep’, romantic comedy ‘Last Christmas’, Roland Emmerich’s World War II flick ‘Midway’, and John Cena-fronted family comedy ‘Playing With Fire’. Since ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ isn’t likely to hang on to #1, ‘Doctor Sleep’ will likely be the next winner, but the others stand a chance of performing well if alternative fanbases turn out– women for ‘Last Christmas’, older men for ‘Midway’, and families for ‘Playing With Fire’.
Check back to see how they do.