‘Furiosa,’ ‘Garfield’ in Tight No. 1 Race, But Memorial Day Box Office Sinks to 26-Year Low

Warner Bros.’ “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” and Sony/Alcon/DNEG’s “The Garfield Movie” are in a narrow race for the No. 1 spot at the Memorial Day box office. But no matter who wins, theaters are losing, as overall totals for the holiday weekend are the lowest they’ve been since 1998.

Industry estimates currently have both films earning 3-day openings of $25 million and 4-day openings of approximately $31 million, with Sony projecting a $31.8 million 4-day for “Garfield” while Warner Bros. is holding off on 4-day estimates until Monday. Regardless, that’s the lowest total for a No. 1 Memorial Day film since “Casper” in 1995, while the overall estimated 4-day total of $127.7 million is a sharp 38% drop from last year’s Memorial Day weekend.

It’s a drop that can be attributed to an industry-wide slump as Hollywood and exhibitors weather weeks of reduced theatrical output due to delays caused by last year’s strikes, including Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which moved from May to late July and left theaters without their customary comic book boost to kick off the summer.

The films that remain have not been able to carry the load, as only one film since the start of April — Disney/20th Century’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” — has earned a 3-day opening above $35 million.

For Sony, “Garfield” will turn a theatrical profit, as the animated family film holds a reported budget of $60 million before marketing that was financed by Alcon Entertainment. Audience reception for the film is mixed with an 83% Rotten Tomatoes audience score and a B+ on CinemaScore — a grade that is low for a family title — but with $66.3 million already grossed worldwide and three weeks of play time before Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” arrives, “Garfield” should easily clear the break-even point.

“Furiosa,” on the other hand, won’t be riding eternal, shiny and chrome. Carrying a $168 million budget, the “Mad Max” prequel is opening well short of the $45.4 million 3-day start of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which grossed $379 million worldwide against a $150 million budget in 2015.

“Furiosa” is getting strong reviews with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 89% critics and 91% audience. But “Fury Road” got even stronger scores along with the same CinemaScore grade as “Furiosa” with a B+ and 4.5/5 on PostTrak. Overseas numbers are still forthcoming, but there are no signs that “Furiosa” can match the performance of its Oscar-winning predecessor, something it needs to do to break even theatrically.

It’s a tough weekend for Warner after the studio enjoyed several box office successes during the winter and spring, including Timothee Chalamet’s holiday hit “Wonka” and the Legendary Pictures one-two punch of “Dune: Part Two” and “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” not to mention the record-breaking success of “Barbie” that the studio is not even a year removed from.

Paramount’s “IF” is in third with a 3-day opening of $16.1 million — a 52% drop from its opening weekend — and $21 million over four days. After its so-so $33.7 million start, the John Krasinski family film needed to find its own lane among audiences while “Garfield” skewed towards parents with younger kids, and that is bearing out as the $110 million film tries to turn its strong word-of-mouth into theatrical profit with a two-weekend total of $63.5 million and $103.6 million worldwide.

Disney/20th Century’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is in fourth with a $17 million 4-day total, bringing its cume to $126.5 million domestic while it sits on the threshold of $300 million worldwide. The fourth “Apes” reboot film continues to show strong holds in most of the world and will pass the $146.8 million domestic total of “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

But the film will likely fall short of the $490 million global total of its 2017 predecessor due simply to the industry-wide drop for Hollywood films in China. “Kingdom” has just made $25.3 million in that country compared to $112 million for “War.”

Universal’s “The Fall Guy” is in fifth with $7.6 million over four days, as the $125 million action comedy continues its poor run with $73.8 million domestic and $143.8 million worldwide.

Farther down the charts, Angel Studios’ “Sight” opened in 2,100 locations and grossed an industry-estimated $3.5 million over four days. The inspirational true story drama of an eye surgeon who restored the sight of a blind orphan has received a 63% critics RT score while receiving an A on CinemaScore from an audience largely consisting of the loyal following Angel Studios has built in the wake of last year’s breakout hit “Sound of Freedom.”

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