In a major blow for 20th Century Fox’s plan to secure the fate of a key superhero franchise, controversial director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four opened to a dismal $26.2 million from 3,995 theaters at the North American box office after being rejected by critics and audiences alike.
That’s one of the lowest openings of all time for a big-budget studio superhero movie, and, in a twist Hollywood didn’t see coming, the $120 million tentpole lost the weekend crown to holdover Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, starring Tom Cruise. Rogue Nation fell a mere 48 percent in its second weekend to $29.4 million from 3,988 theaters for a domestic total of $109.5 million for partners Paramount and Skydance Productions (M:I continues to be buoyed by strong Imax numbers).
Fantastic Four was no doubt hurt by scathing reviews and a C- CinemaScore, as well as drama whipped up by the director. On Thursday, Trank tweeted that the final version of the superhero was not his own and that his version would have gotten better notices. (He later deleted the tweet.) Fox has not commented on Trank’s barb.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed in May that Trank’s behavior and unusual conduct on set was a cause of great concern for the studio and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker. There were also reshoots to shore up the third act, according to insiders.
Heading into the weekend, Fantastic Four was expected to clear at least $40 million, although many expected it to approach $50 million. No one’s sure what the film’s start mean for the sequel, which is already dated for june 2017.
Fantastic Four came in well behind the first two films, Fantastic Four ($56.1 million) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($58.1 million). The $120 million film, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, will mark one of the worst debuts for a Marvel Comics film adaptation. In 2012, Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance, from Sony, launched to $22.1 million (that movie cost notably less to make).
In terms of a big-budget superhero movie, Marvel or otherwise, Fantastic Four did even less than 2011 flop The Green Hornet ($33.5 million).
Elsewhere, The Gift, Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut, placed No. 3 with $12 million from 2,503 theaters.
The Gift — a throwback to psychological thrillers including Fatal Attraction — is the first test for Bob Simonds’ STX Entertainment and is being boosted by stellar reviews. Edgerton also stars in the Blumhouse film as a man with an unhealthy fixation on an old schoolmate (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Rebecca Hall).
Jonnathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep, placed No. 7 in its debut with $7 million from 1,603 theaters (numbers from Sony weren’t immediately available).That’s among one of the lowest nationwide openings for a Streep film, although the movie’s theater count is modest and its location average ($4,367) isn’t that far behind The Gift’s. Still, the verdict is out, and much will depend upon how Ricki fares when it expands into more theaters next weekend.
Streep returns to theaters as a rocker with dashed dreams and a troubled family life in the $18 million Sony film, the first from Tom Rothman since arriving at the studio. Both Ricki and The Gift were fueled by females, and each received a B CinemaScore.
This weekend’s fourth new offering is animated film Shaun the Sheep, from Aardman Entertainment and Lionsgate. A spinoff of the hugely successful, dialogue-free British TV series, the film, which opened Wednesday and earned a B+ CinemaScore, placed No. 11 with $4 million from 2,320 theaters for the weekend. It’s five-day total since debuting Wednesday is $5.6 million.
Here’s what ‘Fantastic Four’ would look like as a sitcom: