‘The Fall Guy’ Bombing at Box Office, But Could Make Shocking Comeback!

“The Fall Guy,” an action-comedy movie led by Ryan Gosling paying tribute to stunt performers, started off mild with an estimated $28.5 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. This tepid start signals the beginning of a crucial summer movie season for Hollywood.

The release from Universal Pictures took place on a weekend that is traditionally dominated by Marvel with its $100 million-plus launches. (For instance, in 2023, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” debuted with $118 million.) However, strikes last year disrupted this year’s movie schedule; “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which was originally planned to open this weekend, is now set to debut in July.

Instead of a superhero start, the summer kickoff was given to a movie highlighting the unsung heroes – the stunt performers who risk their lives for action sequences blockbusters rely on. Prior to the weekend, the film was projected to open between $30 million and $40 million.

“The Fall Guy,” directed by former stuntman and “Deadpool 2” director David Leitch, entered the weekend with positive reviews and buzz from a SXSW premiere. However, it will need to maintain interest to justify its $130-million production budget. It garnered an additional $25.4 million in international markets.

What might work in its favor for a long run are high audience ratings (an “A-” CinemaScore) and positive reviews (83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). Jim Orr, distribution head for Universal, is optimistic about “The Fall Guy” in the coming weeks.

“We had a sound opening,” said Orr. “We anticipate a successful run at the domestic box office for several weeks, if not months, in the future.”

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However, the modest debut of “The Fall Guy” suggests broader issues for the film industry. Superhero films are no longer the box-office giants they used to be, leading studios to explore fresh alternatives. “The Fall Guy” appeared to have it all: stunning action sequences, a top-tier star, a director known for crowd-pleasers, and excellent reviews.

Nevertheless, the opening of “The Fall Guy,” based loosely on the 1980s TV series, highlights the struggle the movie industry is likely to face in reigniting the excitement of last year’s “Barbenheimer” summer. “The Fall Guy” features Gosling, in his first role after Ken, and Emily Blunt, from “Oppenheimer.” Both received Oscar nominations.

“This year, the summer is going to be unusual and interesting,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.

Partly due to last year’s work stoppages, fewer big movies are releasing. The total summer box office is projected to be closer to $3 billion, as opposed to the historical $4 billion.

“The summer season is just beginning, so let’s give ‘The Fall Guy’ a chance to build momentum over time. It’s a different kind of summer kickoff film,” said Dergarabedian. “There are always high expectations for any film that starts the summer movie season, but this isn’t your typical summer movie season.”

In a twist, the second spot at the box office went to Walt Disney Co.’s rerelease of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” The first episode of George Lucas’ less popular prequels amassed $8.1 million over the weekend, 25 years after “Phantom Menace” grossed $1 billion.

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Last week’s top film, the Zendaya-starring tennis drama “Challengers,” fell to third place with $7.6 million in its second week. The Amazon MGM release, directed by Luca Guadagnino, saw a 49% drop from its debut weekend.

The Sony Screen Gems supernatural horror movie “Tarot” also had a nationwide opening. It started with $6.5 million, a respectable enough beginning for a low-budget release, but another instance of horror not performing as well this year as it has in recent years.

According to Comscore, the estimated ticket sales from Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters are as follows. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “The Fall Guy,” $28.5 million

2. “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” $8.1 million

3. “Challengers,” $7.6 million

4. “Tarot,” $6.5 million

5. “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” $4.5 million

6. “Civil War,” $3.6 million

7. “Unsung Hero,” $3 million

8. “Kung Fu Panda 4,” $2.4 million

9. “Abigail,” $2.3 million

10. “Ghostbuster: Frozen Empire,” $1.8 million

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