SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Terminator’ frustration

Posted by · 5:09 pm · May 24th, 2009

Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianHollywood tried something it rarely does this Memorial Day weekend: it opened two huge sequels at the same time. The last time anything remotely similar happened was the same holiday weekend in 2005 with “The Longest Yard” and “Madagascar.” They were really just fighting for second place, though, as the second weekend of “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” was a safe bet for number one.

This year’s Memorial Day champ is Ben Stiller with “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” The family comedy earned $53.5 million for the weekend and will have another solid day of business during the holiday tomorrow. That’s better than the $33.4 million debut of the original but that film opened during Christmas and had outstanding legs through early 2007. Its total gross of $266 million is completely out of the question for the sequel now.

The debut is pretty much exactly the same as the second place debut of “Madagascar” from the aforementioned 2005 time frame and that film wasn’t even a sequel. With no other family films in the market, this has to be considered a little soft for Fox.

Second place goes to “Terminator Salvation” with $43 million for the weekend and $56.4 million since opening on Thursday. Again, Warner Bros. has to see this as a little soft as after four days in 2003, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” was already at $70.4 million. Terrible reviews, as well as competition from “Star Trek,” helped seal McG’s fate and I can’t see word of mouth getting this anywhere higher than $135 million. International grosses will decide whether his planned trilogy comes to fruition or not.

The two films combined to gross a mere $96.5 million, which is less than “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” did on its own last year and early predictions that this might be the biggest weekend of all time were sorely inaccurate. Throw the $11.1 million that “Dance Flick” earned, though, and the three films top Dr. Jones. Actually, the Wayans brothers spoof is the only film that performed better than expected and the family dynasty will live to make another shitty movie.

“Angels & Demons” slid 54%, which is not great for a film that skews older on a holiday weekend. Without all the hullabaloo surrounding Dan Brown’s first book, this would-be blockbuster is revealing itself to really just be “End of Days” with Tom Hanks instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I gave my $10 to “Earth” this week and was unimpressed. I haven’t seen any of “Planet Earth” but I have seen “Baraka” and I just sat there wishing I was watching a 70mm print of that beauty the whole time.

“Star Trek” is still the main story at the box office as it earns another $22 million and closes in on $200 million. Unless “Up” works a miracle, J.J. Abrams should have the highest grossing release of May on his hands, which is something I never would have predicted a few weeks ago.

Speaking of “Up,” the Pixar toon leads the charge next week and despite raves from Cannes, this one remains a tough sell for Disney. I think $46 million would be a win, even though it would mean Pixar’s lowest debut ever (barely).

Sam Raimi also enters the fray with “Drag Me to Hell,” a film which I thought would be marketed heavier. A few weeks ago I would have said $30 million easy, but now I’m looking at $19 million for the weekend.

What do you guys think?  Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, May 22, 2009

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

17 responses so far

  • 1 5-24-2009 at 6:23 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    It should also be noted that Terminator Salvation sold less tickets on opening weekend than either Charlie’s Angels film. Ouch.

  • 2 5-24-2009 at 6:32 pm

    gah said...

    Terminator is dead. dont expect another film for another 10 years until someone else tries to reboot it. also dont expect WB to buy back the rights since apparently they go up for grabs soon.

  • 3 5-24-2009 at 7:26 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    Why did “Terminator Salvation” underperform?

    A.) Christian Bale’s rant
    B.) Bad script
    C.) McG’s direction
    D.) Redundant Sequel
    E.) All of the above

  • 4 5-24-2009 at 9:15 pm

    W.J. said...

    I don’t think the rant had anything to do with it. After the initial rush of the trailer, everything else I heard about the film was negative. I think a lot of people sensed that it was going to be a stinker (like its predecessor T3) and steered clear.

  • 5 5-24-2009 at 10:33 pm

    tony rock said...

    The rant and the reviews had nothing to do with it. Kinda like Superman, people just arent interested in Terminator anymore.

  • 6 5-24-2009 at 10:33 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Terminator without Schwarzenegger is a minus.

  • 7 5-24-2009 at 11:05 pm

    Glenn said...

    “Salvation” also didn’t (doesn’t – it’s not a dead animal) feel like a “Terminator” movie. And the absense of Arnie. It kinda looks like a regular action-scifi movie that they shoehorned the Terminator mythology into. Besides, as we’ve seen already many times this year, audiences aren’t exactly looking for down-beat miserable fare. The post-apocalyptic barren futuristic wasteland thing probably turned people off. If they want sci fi action with robots they have the candy-coloured “Transformers” coming up.

    I’m still going to see it, but… yeah. BobMcBob a bad script and direction is hardly the sort of thing to deter audiences. “I’ve heard the script isn’t good” lol. Nah.

  • 8 5-25-2009 at 12:24 am

    Neel Mehta said...

    I liked all 3 previous TERMINATOR movies, when that bleak future loomed for all of us and (despite our best human efforts) seemed inevitable. They represented a great pre-apocalyptic state of mind.

    But once Judgment Day occurred, the franchise should’ve ended. The concept was no longer accessible, and this new movie was of no interest to me.

    I now wonder if I’m not alone in feeling that way.

  • 9 5-25-2009 at 1:16 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “it’s not a dead animal”

    You sure about that, Glenn?

  • 10 5-25-2009 at 3:01 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I am actually happy to see a real quality film (Star Trek) perform so well and others just crashing on immediate release. There might be some hope left, at least until Transformers 2, for which the trailer looks tear-inducingly dull.

  • 11 5-25-2009 at 7:56 am

    KBJr. said...

    Saw ‘Star Trek’ this weekend and I’m still wondering what the hoopla is all about, by the midway point in the film, I was half disinterested. Did anyone else hate the whole ‘back to the future’ or whatever plot device? For all of the critical haterade for ‘Angels and Demons’ I liked that a whole lot more than ‘Trek’…it at the very least kept me interested (well, until that dismal finale).

  • 12 5-25-2009 at 8:45 am

    Kyle said...

    “The rant and the reviews had nothing to do with it. Kinda like Superman, people just arent interested in Terminator anymore.”

    I highly disagree with that statement…make a good movie and it’ll sell itself (like Star Trek has done the past three weeks) make a bad movie and word spreads pretty fast. Wolverine after its first week is the perfect example of that.

  • 13 5-25-2009 at 9:10 am

    BurmaShave said...

    KBjr., this is why you see a movie before the hype. You probably won’t be able to enjoy the movie on its own terms for awhile.

  • 14 5-25-2009 at 11:48 am

    Bill said...

    I’m probably the one person on this site who saw Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit it; I liked the first one and Smithsonian has Ricky Gervais, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Jonah Hill, and Jay Baruchel in it. (Not to mention a favourite landmark). The movie turned out to be pretty bad. Oh well, I had a bit of fun and I got to see Ricky on the big screen.

  • 15 5-26-2009 at 2:01 pm

    Kyle said...


    Did you catch Ghost Town during it’s theatrical run? I did, it wasn’t good, really at all…but Ricky Gervais is always a delight regardless of the material.

  • 16 5-30-2009 at 12:56 pm

    Marshall said...

    $21 million for “Up” on Friday…still sticking to that $46 million for the weekend scenario?!?

  • 17 6-01-2009 at 5:12 am

    Bill said...

    I didn’t get to see Ghost Town in the cinema because I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to go with me. (Lord knows I tried). I caught it on DVD and was rather disappointed. The reviews had really hyped it up for me despite the poor box office but Koepp resorted to some pretty lame penis jokes and Gervais was playing uncomfortably off-type. I’m still excited for the Invention of Lying though, Ricky in his directorial debut with full control sounds a lot better than the somewhat Andy-Millmin-ish move to be deliberated upon by Koepp in Ghost Town.