Sunday August 09, 2015

If This Be Doomsday! Parsing the Box-Office Disaster of ‘Fantastic Four’

Here are a few of the superhero films that did better on opening weekend than Josh Trank's “Fantastic Four” did this weekend, when it grossed $26.2 million:

Movie Opening BO  Thtrs Rel. Date Domestic BO
Daredevil $40,310,419 3,471  Feb. 2003 $102,543,518
Hellboy II: The Golden Army $34,539,115 3,204 July 2008  $75,986,503
The Green Hornet $33,526,876 3,584 Jan. 2011  $98,780,042
Blade II $32,528,016 2,707 March 2002  $82,348,319
Unbreakable $30,330,771 2,708 Nov. 2000  $95,011,339

That's unadjusted for inflation, by the way. Meaning the new FF didn't gross what “Unbreakable” grossed 15 years ago. It didn't even do half the business that the old (and super-crappy) Fantastic Four movies did 10 years ago, when the original debuted with $56 mil in 2005 and the sequel $58 in 2007. Fantastic Four's bad box office debutAnd remember, this one was supposed to wash the bad taste of those from our mouths. But judging from the Rotten Tomatoes reviews (9% and dropping), it looks like Trank's version left its own worse taste behind. 

In the end, “Fantastic Four” didn't even win the weekend, coming in second to the second weekend of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” which dropped only 47% to gross $29.4. It's now grossed $108 domestically, $206 worldwide.

How long has it been since a superhero movie based on Marvel Comics characters debuted in something less than first place? Working backwards chronologically: Not Ant-Man, Avengers 2, Guardians, X-Men/Future Past, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Amazing Spider-Man, or the Avengers. No, you‘ve got to go to Feb. 2012 and the shitty sequel to the shitty 2007 Ghost Rider movie, which debuted in third place with $22 million. And if you remove the odd Satanic/Death Wish titles like Ghost Rider and Punisher? It hasn’t happened since “Elektra” in January 2005. And if you focus on just top tier superhero characters? It‘s never happened. 

It’ll be interesting to see who or what gets the blame for this. Trank, trying to deflect blame on Friday, merely had more fingers pointing back at him. But fans know that Fox has a horrible track record with superhero movie titles.

So is this poor performance a sign of: 1) superhero fatigue; 2) Fantastic Four fatigue; 3) Fox Studios fatigue; or 4) that the age of the superhero movie is ending? I think it's a combination, but I also thinking 3) is stronger than people suspect. The fan boys are still out there but they know how Fox screwed them in the past, so they're content to see this one on DVD and wait for the next MCU movie.

Posted at 12:01 PM on Sunday August 09, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office  
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