‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Underperforms with $25.6M Opening

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

The box office this past weekend was less of a productive Green Place of Many Mothers and more of a Wasteland.

In its box office debut, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” did not perform as expected, collecting $25.6 million from Friday through Sunday and an estimated $31 million through Memorial Day on Monday. The animated film “The Garfield Movie” from Sony, which brought in $24.8 million during the weekend and an estimated $31 million over the four days, is unexpectedly close to the lead in the box office standings. The holiday weekend, the worst in almost thirty years, was not saved by any of them.

Domestic viewers were not the only ones who did not turn up for “Furiosa.” The fifth installment in director George Miller’s post-apocalyptic trilogy, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, is stagnating at the international box office, with $33.3 million from 75 nations, bringing its total to $58.9 million. It’s a challenging start given the film’s $168 million production budget, not to mention a splashy global press tour that included a stop at the Cannes Film Festival.

This is a weak opening despite outstanding reviews and a good audience score, says David A. Gross of movie consulting company Franchise Entertainment Research.

Prequels rarely perform as well as straight sequels, particularly when they lack the stars of the original film—just ask “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which contributes to the issue. Without Jennifer Lawerence playing the Girl on Fire, even last November’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which made $337 million on a $100 million budget and became a hit, was not even close to the original “Hunger Games” story.

However, Lionsgate spent less on “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” than on its predecessors, allowing the prequel to become commercially successful. In the case of “Furiosa,” Warner Bros. did not appear to consider this and reduced spending, thus the dystopian adventure has a high hurdle in terms of profitability.

Shawn Robbin, founder of Box Office Theory, claims Furiosa has even more fans than expected. It underlines that prequels using recast characters are difficult to market to casual audiences.

Although ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015), starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, has been praised as one of the best action films, it was not a box office success. That picture began with $45 million and became a small hit, grossing $380 million against a similarly large budget. It was not even in the top 20 grossing films of 2015.

Mad Max, a 45-year-old franchise, is popular among cinephiles but hasn’t yet caught on with mainstream audiences. So, despite having a female protagonist in “Furiosa,” the prequel lacked the ability to go beyond its main demographic of older male moviegoers.

After the dust settles a little, it will be interesting to see if ‘Furiosa’ can attract a broader audience,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst. “Action elements appeal to younger moviegoers.

This is not good news for popcorn season, since sales will most likely miss the $4 billion level. None of May’s potential blockbusters, such as Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt’s action-comedy “The Fall Guy,” director John Krasinski’s family-friendly “IF,” or “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” could make up for the absence of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

This year was the first in many that there wasn’t a Marvel film to kick off the summer. Even though the majority of those new films have received positive reviews, audiences have not responded well to them.

There are plenty of films on the calendar through August that could excite moviegoers, including franchise sequels like “Deadpool & Wolverine,” “Despicable Me 4”, and “Inside Out 2,” as well as spinoffs and new stories like “Twisters,” “A Quiet Place: Day One,” and Kevin Costner’s “Horizon: An America Saga.”

“Summer is off to a slower start than expected, but the next two months can pick up the pace,” Robbins states.

It’s time for blockbuster season to kick into gear.

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