Box Office: ‘Tomorrowland’ Eyes Win in Slow Memorial Day Weekend

The combined power of George Clooney and the Disney brand will propel “Tomorrowland” to first place at the Memorial Day Weekend box office, but Hollywood won’t have as much to celebrate this holiday as it has in years past.

Tomorrowland” is on track to debut to $40 million for the three-day weekend and just shy of $50 million for the four-day period. That’s a shadow of last year’s Memorial Weekend champ, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and its $122.9 million haul, to say nothing of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and its $139.8 million high-water mark. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the weakest Memorial Day weekends in recent history.

“Tomorrowland,” a futuristic adventure about… well, that’s not immediately clear from the advertisements, may be the summer movie season’s biggest gamble. Unlike most of the major tentpole films, it’s an original proposition, not a sequel or an adaptation of a beloved comicbook. With a production budget of $180 million, “Tomorrowland” will need strong word of mouth and fantastic overseas business if it is to make a profit. Reviews for the film, directed by “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” director Brad Bird, have been mixed, which could spell trouble.

“The negative reviews for ‘Tomorrowland’ certainly worry me,” said Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “It’s a sign the film might not hold up as well throughout the course of the weekend.”

Overseas, the film’s dazzling special effects should goose revenues. This weekend, “Tomorrowland” opens in 65 foreign markets.

With “Tomorrowland” something of a question mark at the domestic box office, holdovers “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” and fellow newcomer “Poltergeist” may have to pick up the slack. Of these, “Pitch Perfect 2” should be the strongest performer, having dominated last weekend’s box office with a stunning $69.2 million debut. It should taper off in its second weekend, but will still do roughly $40 million for the four-day period.

Mad Max: Fury Road” has enjoyed some of the best reviews of the year, with critics liberally tossing around the superlatives, but the $150 million production still has a long way to go before it climbs into the black. Look for the apocalyptic adventure to do approximately $30 million for the four-day spell.

“Poltergeist,” a remake of the 1982 haunted house classic, was co-financed by MGM and Fox 2000 for $35 million. Reviews have been negative, but horror films tend to be critic-proof. “Poltergeist” should do $25 million for the four-day frame, but the studio is being more conservative and predicting a debut of $20 million to $22 million for the period.

“There’s a wide array of content programmed for this weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “There literally is something for everyone, which could pay off.”

The summer box office is up a whopping 14.2% over last summer and 0.58% ahead of the record summer of 2013, but it should surrender some of those gains by the time Tuesday rolls around. Last summer, the Memorial Day Weekend box office hit $232.1 million for the four-day weekend — a huge number, but one that ranks as only the fifth biggest in history. The record was set in 2013, when “Fast & Furious 6” and “The Hangover Part III” combined to boost revenues to $314.2 million over the four days; this year’s holiday weekend will likely pale in comparison no matter how strong a mix of films Hollywood is offering up.

Not all Memorial Days are created equal.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Take Me Somewhere Nice review

    Ena Sendijarevic on Migration, Identity and the Question of Belonging

    Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević had an auspicious debut with “Import,” a short film which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. Drawing on her own family’s personal history, the Amsterdam-based director crafted an idiosyncratic tale about a family of Bosnian refugees trying to make a new home in the Netherlands. With her feature debut, [...]

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Haugesund Prizes ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Ballon’

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Celine Sciamma’s intellectually dexterous, bittersweet love tale “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” has claimed another heart, taking home The Norwegian Film-Critics’ Prize at the Haugesund Film Festival’s closing night on Thursday. The festival, which runs over August 17-23, capped its 47th edition with a screening of André Løyning and Kristian Landmark’s [...]

  • Motherless Brooklyn Edward Norton

    Edward Norton Investigates Murder in 'Motherless Brooklyn' Trailer

    The trailer for Edward Norton’s forthcoming crime drama “Motherless Brooklyn” is officially out. Warner Bros.’ drama, based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, follows Lionel Essrog, a young man who works for a small-time mobster in Brooklyn while struggling with an intense case of Tourette Syndrome. “Okay, listen, I got something wrong with me, [...]

  • Summer Box Office

    Box Office Report Card: Studios Get Their Summer Grades

    Studios got badly burned this summer. From May to August, popcorn season in movie speak, the film flops piled up and the big hits were few and far between for nearly every company except Disney. As a whole, summer did little to instill confidence in the state of moviegoing. To be sure, there were successes [...]

  • Port Authority

    Nate Parker's 'American Skin' to Play in Deauville

    Nate Parker’s politically charged drama “American Skin” is set to play at the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival following its world premiere at Venice. “American Skin,” which tells the story of a Gulf War veteran whose son is killed by a police officer, marks Parker’s first feature film since the news resurfaced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content