Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping to reinvigorate his faltering film career this holiday weekend by breaking out a certain cyborg’s trademark sunglasses and leather jacket.
After all, nostalgia can be a powerful weapon — a force potent enough to erase memories of “Escape Plan,” “Sabotage” and a litany of recent Ahnold box office duds.
Paramount’s “Terminator: Genisys,” which finds Schwarzenegger back in his star-making role, is on track to debut to between $50 million and $55 million over its first five days of release and should pull in $30 million to $35 million over the July Fourth weekend. The fifth film in the “Terminator” series debuts Wednesday across 3,700 locations. It looks at ongoing fallout from Skynet’s ill-conceived forays into artificial intelligence, following human resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) on another time-bending adventure. Reviews have been lukewarm, with critics handing the film a 38% rotten ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.
The “Terminator” series has had past success over Independence Day, with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” considered the high-point of the series, and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” perhaps the nadir, both debuting over the holiday to strong results.
But Schwarzenegger faces an opponent that’s more formidable than even the T-1000 — “Magic Mike XXL.” The stripper sequel returns with a washboard abs-rocking crew that includes Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, though not Matthew McConaughey, one of the key components that made the first film such a hoot.
“Magic Mike XXL” should bow to $45 million to $48 million across 3,355 locations during its first five days, and $28 million over the holiday weekend. That’s less than the $39.1 million that the first “Magic Mike” racked up, but the film still promises to be extremely profitable for Warner Bros., the studio behind the picture. “Magic Mike XXL” cost $14.8 million to produce, a fraction of the “Terminator: Genisys” $155 million pricetag. Body oil must must not be that expensive.
Schwarzenegger isn’t the only one with a lot on the line when it comes to the Terminator. Skydance Productions, which is partnering on the film with Paramount, hopes that “Terminator: Genisys” will launch future sequels and has reportedly planned a sixth and seventh installment for 2017 and 2018. The picture will need to get a boost from overseas crowds to justify that kind of investment. Last weekend, the film pulled in $8.3 million from 10 small territories, a sign that the Terminator brand may resonate more strongly in foreign countries.
Thanks to “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the summer box office has been scorching. Don’t look for this July 4th to burn through any records. Neither “Terminator: Genisys” nor “Magic Mike XXL” is on track to crack the top 20 list of biggest Independence Day weekends, leaving “Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s” $97.8 million high-water mark undisturbed.
Despite a flood of blockbusters, Hollywood hasn’t gone out of its way to augment holiday weekends this season. Memorial Day, for instance, was the weakest in five years, a dip largely attributable to the failure of “Tomorrowland.”
“Hollywood does not feel obligated to open everything on a holiday weekend in order for it to succeed,” said Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst of BoxOffice.com. “These weekends are always seen as being potentially massive, but this one’s not going to be.”
On paper, it looked like “Magic Mike XXL” and “Terminator Genisys” would carve up the holiday between themselves, with the stripper sequel nabbing women and the action thriller roping men. It won’t work exactly like that. Few expected “Jurassic World” and “Inside Out” would remain such box office forces. Both pictures could pull in similar numbers to the two new wide releases, racking up as much as $50 million for the five-day period.
It’s shaping up to be a much healthier July Fourth than the previous holiday. That’s not a massive accomplishment, given that last year’s celebration of the nation’s birthday was the lowest grossing in three decades when adjusted for inflation. The crop of newcomers and holdovers look a lot stronger than “Tammy,” “Deliver Us From Evil” or any of the other films that were unveiled over the year-ago period.
There’s one major cause for concern, however. The holiday falls on a Saturday, which will cut into one of the biggest moviegoing days of the week, as consumers steer clear of the multiplexes in favor of barbecues and fireworks watching.