- “Terminator: Dark Fate” flopped over the weekend, both in the US and China, with $US29 million and $US28 million, respectively.
- It stands to lose more than $US120 million for the studios Skydance Media, Paramount, and Fox, the latter of which handled international distribution.
- Box-office experts say there are a number of factors that led to “Dark Fate’s” failure, including years of bad sequels in the “Terminator” franchise and the presence of “Joker,” which is still a formidable box-office force.
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The latest movie in the long-running “Terminator” series, “Terminator: Dark Fate,” reeled in just $US29 million in the US over the weekend and has made $US123 million total worldwide so far. The domestic opening is well below studio projections and a disappointing result for a movie that cost $US185 million to produce and millions more to market.
“Dark Fate” stands to lose more than $US120 million for the studios Skydance Media, Paramount, and Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fox handled international distribution, marking another post-Disney merger flop for Fox’s film business, which suffered a $US170 million third-quarter operating loss earlier this year.
“The mythology has been rebooted so many times without much success,” Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst, said of the “Terminator” franchise. “It’s pretty clear audiences have had enough.”
“Dark Fate,” the sixth movie in the series, is flopping despite receiving the best reviews for the franchise in years. It has a 70% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 27% score for 2015’s “Terminator Genisys” and the 33% score for 2009’s “Terminator Salvation.”
While “Genisys” was a dud in the US with just under $US90 million, it ultimately earned over $US400 million worldwide thanks to international box office. “Dark Fate” will likely not experience that boost. The movie flopped hard in its China opening, debuting in second place with $US28 million, behind the local holdover “Better Days.”
Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, is perplexed by “Dark Fate’s” failure.
“Finally, after many attempts since 1991’s ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,’ the movie had the creative pedigree, point-of-view, cast, and storyline that seemingly everyone had been waiting for,” Dergarabedian said. “And yet the film came in under expectations.”
“Dark Fate” acted as a direct sequel to “Judgment Day” and brought back actress Linda Hamilton and James Cameron, who directed the first two movies, as a producer. It’s similar to what Blumhouse did with last year’s “Halloween,” which ignored all other sequels and was a follow up to the original 1978 movie.
“Halloween,” however, was a major success with two sequels in development.
“Nostalgia is a tricky beast and in ‘Dark Fate’s’ case, audiences had been fooled one too many times,” Bock said. “Horror, on the other hand, can be retooled for modern audiences without much scrutiny, as scare tactics aren’t beholden to the same ‘lofty’ set of parameters.”
Furthermore, there’s the “Joker” problem. The movie is still a major box-office force, even over a month after its release, and it crossed the $US900 million mark globally over the weekend.
“‘Joker’ is having a long-term impact on virtually every movie that has opened in its wake,” Dergarbedian said.
Cameron told Deadline in August that “Dark Fate” could launch a new “Terminator” trilogy if it performed well at the box office. But considering the weekend numbers, the franchise might not be back for a long time.
- Read more of Business Insider’s coverage of “Terminator: Dark Fate”
- James Cameron says ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ could launch a new trilogy if it’s a box-office success. We talked to experts about its chances.
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