Sun | Jun 16, 2024

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

Published:Monday | May 27, 2024 | 12:08 AM
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Garfield, voiced by Chris Pratt, in a scene from the animated film ‘The Garfield Movie’.
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Garfield, voiced by Chris Pratt, in a scene from the animated film ‘The Garfield Movie’.
This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Tom Burke, left, and Anya Taylor-Joy in a scene from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’.
This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Tom Burke, left, and Anya Taylor-Joy in a scene from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’.
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Movie theatres 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.

The Garfield Movie, animated and family-friendly, was the other big new offering last 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 to Memorial Day.

Aside from Memorial Day in 2020 when theatres 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 10 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 was never expected to join the $100-million opener club, but it was supposed to have a slightly stronger showing in the $40-million range over its first four days. This new origin story had a lot of things going for it, including strong reviews out of the just-wrapped Cannes Film Festival. Internationally, it made $33.3 million, adding up to a $58.9-million global launch. With a reported $168-million production budget, 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.

In its second weekend, John Krasinski’s IF fell 53 per cent, adding $16.1 million through yo Sunday and $20.7 million through to 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 to Sunday, bringing its global total to $294.8 million.

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.