‘Furiosa’ and ‘Garfield’ Fight for #1, but There Are No Winners

The Memorial Day Weekend we’d all like to forget: Any claims to #1 are premature. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (Warner Bros.) and “The Garfield Movie” (Sony) are in a battle for #1 for the four-day holiday, but each only estimates around $25 million for Friday to Sunday. (“Furiosa” is ahead.)

This is a holiday release date often chosen for a film that’s expected to be among the top three of the year. Unadjusted, neither “Furiosa” nor “Garfield” would be among the top 50 openers historically for this particular weekend; adjusting to current ticket prices, not even the top 100.

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Current estimates for the four-day weekend are $101 million (last year, $163 million), but the crisis lies in the whole month. May is supposed to kick off summer and it has failed. It confirms that post- “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” box-office depression has no end in sight.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK, (aka TOP GUN 2), stars Tom Cruise in the cockpit
‘Top Gun: Maverick’Courtesy of Paramount / Everett Collection

Like last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Furiosa” is expensive ($168 million budget before marketing), a solid franchise (“Fury Road” in 2015 grossed $154 million domestically, about $180 million at current ticket prices), and launched at Cannes with strong reviews. However, Tom Cruise’s film also came at the right time in theater recovery, had a wider audience appeal (women as well as men; “Furiosa” is over 70 percent male), and a PG-13 rating (which can matter more on holidays).

Still, on a holiday weekend with no competition, “Furiosa” should have been able to do $40 million. In 2015, on a non-holiday May weekend, “Fury Road” grossed $45 million (over $50 million today).

“Furiosa” grossed an initial $33 million foreign (only Japan and China missing among top countries) for $58 million worldwide. With no real expectation of a strong hold (it got a B+ Cinemascore, although so did “Fury Road”), this seems destined to be an ultimate shortfall for WB. For theaters, it is yet another disappointment.

This has been a terrible month. One film opened over $35 million; last year, three opened over $60 million. Nothing among its releases will be in the top three releases of 2024. (“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” will fall behind “Dune: Part Two,” “Kung Fu Panda 4,” and “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.”)

This can’t be solely a question of product appeal or quantity. It’s not just the films.

THE GARFIELD MOVIE, (aka GARFIELD), from left: Baby Odie (voice: Harvey Guillen), Baby Garfield (voice: Chris Pratt), 2024. © Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection
‘The Garfield Movie’©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Garfield” at least is in line with expectations. The animated title, the first in what Sony hopes will be a new franchise, opened to less than half of “Panda” in March. Still, as a first-time entry that cost $60 million (and played against “IF,” also appealing to families), it’s respectable.

“The Fall Guy” (Universal) had the week’s best top 10 hold, down 29 percent parallel to its PVOD release, but it will reach a mediocre $80 million. “IF” (Paramount) had a respectable second-weekend drop of 51 percent, but it looks like $100 million at best. “Apes” could get to $175 million, but at a cost of $160 million before marketing.

This weekend has the lowest Memorial Day four-day gross since 1995, but it’s worse than that. In 2024, it represents perhaps 12 million admissions; 1995 saw around 25 million, with the population 20 percent smaller.

Two other new titles entered the top 10. “Sight” (Angel), a medical drama with a faith-based element, managed a mediocre $2.7 million in 2,100 theaters. “Babes” (Neon) went wide its second weekend, managing just over $1 million for ninth place in 589 theaters.

Among other second-week titles, Renny Harlin’s “The Strangers: Chapter One” (Lionsgate) had a decent hold for a horror film, more so for one with a C Cinemascore, down 53 percent. The low-budget entry is now at $21 million. The Amy Winehouse biopic “Back to Black” (Focus) fell 63 percent, just below $5 million total.

Year to date remains down 22 percent. That projects to $7.1 million for 2024 if that holds, down from $9.1 million last year. May was supposed to reduce the fall. Instead, it has reinforced the awful pattern.

HIT MAN, Glen Powell, 2023. © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
‘Hit Man’©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

The current scene is at low ebb in theaters. The most notable new release is Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man” with Glen Powell, two weeks before it streams on Netflix. 66 Canadian theaters reported, with perhaps $190,000 for the weekend. The U.S. total in limited (uncertain number) theaters showed some decent sales among some big-city locations, particularly small-screen Alamo Drafthouse locations with some sellouts. A very rough estimate might be about the same as Canada, but in fewer theaters.

The Top 10 (Friday-Sunday)

1. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (WB) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 79; Est. budget: $168 million

$25,500,000 in 3,804 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,717; Cumulative: $25,500,000

2. The Garfield Movie (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 30; Est. budget: $60 million

$24,775,000 in 4,035 theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $24,775,000

3. IF (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$16,100,000 (-52%) in 4,068 (+27) theaters; PTA: $3,958; Cumulative: $58,667,000

4. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$13,356,000 (-48%) in 3,550 (-890) theaters; PTA: $3,762; Cumulative: $122,806

5. The Fall Guy (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #4; also on PVOD

$5,920,000 (-29%) in 2,955 (-525) theaters; PTA: $2,003; Cumulative: $72,211,000

6. The Strangers: Chapter 1 (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$5,610,000 (-53%) in 2,856 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,964; Cumulative: $21,344,000

7. Sight (Angel) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 42

$2,696,000 in 2,100 theaters; PTA: $1,284; Cumulative: $2,696,000

8. Challengers (Amazon MGM) Week 5; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,380,000 (-52%) in 1,089 (-849) theaters; PTA: $1,797; Cumulative: $46,475,000

9. Babes (Neon) Week 2; Last week #20

$1,060,000 (+550) in 589 (+577) theaters; PTA: $1,797; Cumulative: $1,288,000

10. Back to Black (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$1,050,000 (-63%) in 2,013 (+3) theaters; PTA: $522; Cumulative: $4,825,000

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.

Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Motaro NEW – Metacritic: 71; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2023

$14,027 in 2 theaters; PTA: $7,014

I Saw the TV Glow (A24) Week 4

$513,899 in 458 (-11) theaters; Cumulative: $2,786,000

Wildcat (Oscilloscope) Week 4

$79,248 in 94 (-7) theaters; Cumulative: $384,714

Evil Does Not Exist (Sideshow/Janus) Week 4

$100,912 in 138 (+35) theaters; Cumulative: $512,055

Civil War (A24) Week 7; also on PVOD

$306,800 in 451 (-661) theaters; Cumulative: $68,105,000

Wicked Little Letters (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8

$28,889 in 46 (-86) theaters; Cumulative: $4,883,000

La Chimera (Neon) Week 9

$14,200 in 15 (-5) theaters; Cumulative: $836,071

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