Box Office: ‘The Fall Guy’ Kicks Off Summer Movie Season With Disappointing $28 Million Debut

The Fall Guy
Eric Laciste

The Fall Guy,” an action-comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, kicked off the summer movie season without much sizzle.

The film, backed by Universal and directed by David Leitch, fell just short of expectations with $28.5 million from 4,002 North American venues in its debut. Heading into the weekend, “The Fall Guy” was projected to earn at least $30 million to $40 million. The trouble is that the movie cost $140 million to produce, so it needs strong word of mouth and interest at the international box office to recoup its budget during its theatrical run. “The Fall Guy” opened to $25.4 million overseas, bringing its global total to $65.4 million.

“This is a fair opening for a big action-comedy,” says David A. Gross of movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Action comedies are solid performers overseas, and with this cast, foreign business should be good. At [its] cost, ‘The Fall Guy’ is going to need a long run.”

There’s hope that “The Fall Guy” can stick around over the coming weeks… and that’s because Leitch’s prior film, 2022’s Brad Pitt-led assassin thriller “Bullet Train,” overcame similar box office odds. The $90 million-budgeted movie started slow with $30 million in August and legged out to $130 million domestically and $239 million globally.

Also, audiences and critics are digging the film, which landed an “A-” CinemaScore and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Fall Guy” sees Gosling as a former stuntman who tries to track down a missing movie star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) so he can salvage a big studio movie, which is being directed by his ex-girlfriend (Blunt).

“We are incredibly proud of this film,” says Universal’s president of domestic distribution Jim Orr. “It’s an exciting, charming film that I have no doubt will have a robust run.”

Notably, this is the first time in over a decade that Marvel isn’t igniting the summer season so, naturally, comparisons are tough to the same weekend in 2023 when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ started things off with $118 million. This marks the softest start to blockbuster season in roughly 15 years. Now, the domestic box office is down more than 20% from 2023 and 40% from 2019, and exhibitors are desperate for upcoming releases like “Deadpool & Wolverine,” “Despicable Me 4” and “Inside Out 2” to fill seats during the next four months. “Deadpool & Wolverine” was, at one point, supposed to kick off popcorn season on May 3, but it was delayed because of last year’s actors and writers strikes.

“For over a decade and a half, a Marvel movie provided the spark to ignite the summer movie season,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “This year, without such a blockbuster title, apples-to-apples comparisons to the same weekend a year ago are rendered moot.”

Although “The Fall Guy” easily topped box office charts, it wasn’t the sole newcomer. Sony and Screen Gem’s low-budget horror film “Tarot” opened in fourth place with $6.5 million from 3,104 locations. It also opened overseas with $3.7 million, boosting its global tally to $10.2 million.

Despite the single-digit domestic debut, it’s not a bad start because the film cost just $8 million and marketing expenses were low, too. “Tarot,” a supernatural story about friends who unleash evil from a cursed deck of tarot cards, has terrible reviews (it scored a bleak “C-” on CinemaScore and an even more tragic 12% on Rotten Tomatoes), which won’t help word of mouth.

“The Fall Guy,” based on the 1980s TV series about stunt performers, wasn’t the only box office throwback. In honor of May the Fourth (aka “Star Wars Day”), Disney and LucasFilm re-released 1999’s “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” which brought in $8.1 million from 2,600 domestic theaters. Its second-place finish is impressive for a 25-year-old film that is widely available to watch at home. “The Phantom Menace” added $6.4 million internationally, bringing its weekend haul to $14.5 million worldwide.

“Challengers,” which took the No. 1 spot last weekend with $15 million, dropped to third place with $7.65 million in its second outing, down 49% from its opening. After 10 days of release, the film, from Amazon MGM Studios and director Luca Guadagnino, has generated $29.4 million. “Challengers” carries a significant price tag of roughly $55 million, so it needs to keep chugging along to justify that budget.

“Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire” rounded out the top five with $4.5 million in its sixth weekend of release. The monster tentpole has grossed $188 million domestically and $546 million globally, making it the year’s second-highest-grossing movie.

Elsewhere, A24’s “Civil War” added $3.5 million in its fourth outing, bringing its North American tally to $62 million. It’s nearing the $100 million mark worldwide and already stands as the indie studio’s second-biggest movie of all time. That’s good because with its $50 million price tag, “Civil War” marks A24’s most expensive film to date.

From Variety US