Will ‘Bad Boys 4’ Be Consumed by the Box Office Slump?

After the worst May the box office has seen in 26 years, theaters are hoping that Sony/Columbia’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” can restart Hollywood’s momentum in June with a solid opening weekend. But not everyone is optimistic that will be the case.

Produced on a reported $100 million budget, “Bad Boys 4” is relatively less expensive than many of its peers in the summer action film space. That makes the current projections of a $45-50 million opening weekend — which was below the $62 million three-day opening of “Bad Boys For Life” on MLK weekend in 2020 — a decent start that could allow Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s latest wild ride to turn a profit if it continues to play among male moviegoers over the age of 35.

But “Bad Boys 4” is heading into theaters with as little momentum as any summer title, especially an R-rated one, has had in recent memory. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is the only film in the last two months to open above $35 million. Whether this will consume the film’s theatrical hopes is a question sources who spoke to TheWrap are split on.

Some rival distributors and exhibitors say they are optimistic about the chances for “Bad Boys.” But for others advance ticket sales are not high enough to give them confidence — they fear opening weekend numbers could dip into the $30 million range while tracking is expected to dip into the lower $40 million range prior to release. Given that “Bad Boys” is not a four-quadrant film, it would be difficult for it to leg out of the red from an opening below $40 million, even if it has a strong showing as a Father’s Day alternative to Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” in its second weekend.

However the film performs, one thing is clear: Will Smith’s infamous slap at the Oscars will have nothing to do with it. “Bad Boys 4” is his first high-profile film since that fateful night two years ago, but the world outside Hollywood has largely moved on. Most moviegoers’ interest in the film isn’t likely to be influenced by that incident but rather on how interested they are in another “Bad Boys” film.

It’s not an exact science on how time between sequels affects box office performance. “Bad Boys For Life” came out 17 years after “Bad Boys II,” grossing a strong $426.5 million worldwide against a $90 million budget just before the pandemic shut theaters down.

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” won’t have the novelty of being the film that revives a long-dormant IP, so a drop from “For Life” is to be expected. But if the lower predictions of a $30 million-range opening end up being true, “Ride or Die” will need a lot go right to reach the break-even point. Significant and sustained turnout from that core audience of Gen X and older millennial men who are longtime “Bad Boys” fans will be needed, as will some degree of interest from Gen Z audiences who largely abandoned “Furiosa,” leading to its poor box office performance over the last two weeks.

The June release slate may help “Bad Boys” in that regard. “Inside Out 2” will have four-quadrant appeal outside of families, but the weekend of June 21 will be devoted to specialty titles like “The Bikeriders,” and “Kinds of Kindness,” which won’t have significant overlap with the “Bad Boys” audience.

It won’t be until “A Quiet Place: Day One” at the end of the month when a high-profile franchise film aimed towards adults arrives, giving “Bad Boys 4” the time to leg out — provided it gets the word-of-mouth needed to do so.

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