ENTERTAINMENT

‘Furiosa,’ ‘Garfield’ lead slowest Memorial Day box office in decades

May 26, 2024, 3:01 PM

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Garfield, voiced by Chris Pratt, in a scene from the ani...

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Garfield, voiced by Chris Pratt, in a scene from the animated film "The Garfield Movie." (Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)

(Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) Movie theaters are looking more and more like a wasteland this summer. Neither “ Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga ” nor “ The Garfield Movie ” could save Memorial Day weekend, which is cruising towards a two-decade low.

“ Furiosa,” the Mad Max prequel starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, claimed the first place spot for the Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend with $25.6 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Warner Bros. is waiting until Monday to release its four-day estimates.

‘Garfield’

“The Garfield Movie,” animated and family-friendly, was the other big new offering this weekend from Sony’s Columbia Pictures and Alcon Entertainment. It is claiming No. 1 for the four-day holiday weekend with an estimated $31.9 million in ticket sales through Memorial Day. Sony estimates its three-day earnings to be $24.8 million.

Aside from Memorial Day in 2020 when theaters were closed due to COVID-19, these are the lowest earning No. 1 movies in 29 years, since “Casper” earned $22.5 million (not adjusted for inflation) in its first four days in 1995. Big earners are more typical for the holiday weekend, which has had ten movies crack $100 million, led by “Top Gun: Maverick’s” record-setting $160 million launch in 2022. Last year, the live-action “The Little Mermaid” joined the group with a $118 million debut. Audiences even turned out in greater numbers over the pandemic-addled weekend in 2021 for “A Quiet Place Part II,” which made over $57 million.

“This was a rather slow Memorial weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “A few things didn’t happen that created this situation: We didn’t have a tailwind heading into the summer. We kicked off the summer minus a Marvel movie. In a way, we’ve been playing catch up all year long.”

‘Furiosa’

“Furiosa” was never expected to join the $100 million opener club, which Warner Bros. released on 3,804 screens in the U.S. and Canada. But it was supposed to have a slightly stronger showing in the $40 million range over its first four days. That would have been more in line with its predecessor, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which opened to $45.4 million in May 2015. “Fury Road,” starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, went on to gross nearly $380 million worldwide.

This new origin story in which Taylor-Joy plays a younger version of Theron’s character had a lot of things going for it, too, including strong reviews out of the just-wrapped Cannes Film Festival (it has an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a splashy international press tour with many buzzy premiere looks from Taylor-Joy. Internationally, it made $33.3 million adding up to a $58.9 million global launch. With a reported $168 million production budget, not accounting for marketing and promotion, “Furiosa” has a long road to profitability.

“The Garfield Movie,” meanwhile, was more modestly budgeted, at a reported $60 million and is being looked at as a solid launch for the franchise. It previously opened internationally and has earned over $66 million to date. Its domestic launch far surpassed the first weekends of previous attempts at Garfield movies.

Chris Pratt voices the lasagna-loving, Monday-hating orange cat in the movie that got scathing reviews from critics (it has a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes). Audiences meanwhile gave both “Furiosa” and “The Garfield Movie” a B+ CinemaScore and 4.5 stars out of 5 on PostTrak.

‘IF’

In its second weekend, John Krasinski’s “IF” fell 53%, adding $16.1 million through Sunday and $20.7 million through Monday, bringing its domestic total to $63.3 million. Worldwide, it has surpassed $100 million. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” now in its third weekend, added $13.4 million through Sunday, bringing its global total to $294.8 million, making it the fourth-highest grossing film of the year.

This all adds up to a summer moviegoing season that will not only fall short of a normal $4 billion stretch but may even struggle to reach $3 billion. Earlier this week, the industry trade The Hollywood Reporter asked “ what happened to the $100 million opener? ” Notably, 2024 has had none yet. The biggest of the year was “Dune: Part Two,” which opened to $82.5 million and went on to earn over $711 million worldwide.

“Moviegoing begets moviegoing,” Derarabedian said. “Every studio is rooting for every other studio to have a big hit.”

The lack of a recent runaway hit just puts more pressure on the upcoming films to make up the slack. Still on the way are a slew of potential blockbusters like Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 27), Universal’s “Despicable Me 4” (July 3) and “ Twisters ” (July 19) and two heavy-hitters from Disney: “Inside Out 2” (June 14) and “ Deadpool & Wolverine ” (July 26).

“It ain’t over yet,” Dergarabedian said. “There’s a lot of big movies on the way. The summer heat is on for the June and July films to really deliver.”

Winners at the box office

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” $25.6 million.

2. “The Garfield Movie,” $24.8 million.

3. “IF,” $16.1 million.

4. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” $13.4 million.

5. “The Fall Guy,” $5.9 million.

6. “The Strangers: Chapter 1,” $5.6 million.

7. “Sight,” $2.7 million.”

8. “Challengers,” $1.4 million.

9. “Babes,” $1.1 million.

10. “Back to Black,” $1.1 million.

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‘Furiosa,’ ‘Garfield’ lead slowest Memorial Day box office in decades