For years, the box office trajectory of movies based on comic-book superheroes has been as reliable as death and taxes. And for the makers, the formula for success has been quite simple. Step One: Make a superhero movie. Step Two: Watch the movie hit No. 1. Step Three: Start shopping for that ocean villa in Antigua.
But hey, all streaks must come to an end, and this one ended with a Thing-like thud. It was indeed clobberin’ time, but it was Marvel’s original fearsome foursome that took the drubbing.
Though almost everyone expected Fox’s Fantastic Four to earn at least $45 million and win this weekend’s box office crown, it was not to be. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation took the honors for the second week in a row, hurtling to another $29.4 million (estimated). Fantastic Four, dragged down by miserable reviews (including ours) and audience apathy, could only muster a disappointing $26.2 million. Not even Mr. Fantastic himself could stretch the box office receipts enough to keep up with Tom Cruise’s money machine.
But Four wasn’t the only movie to feel a little invisible. In truth, it was a fairly grim weekend for lots of movies.
The Gift, another newcomer, was one of the weekend’s only pleasant surprises (at least from a monetary perspective). This low-budget psychological thriller wrapped up about $12 million for its makers and left it on the front stoop. The weekend’s two other debuts didn’t fare nearly as well. Meryl Streep’s Ricki and the Flash missed the Top Five altogether with a $7 million opener (just good enough for seventh place), while the Shaun the Sheep Movie—in keeping with its mute titular character—made very little noise at all. It earned just $4 mil, finishing 11th. That’s pretty baaaaaaad.
A couple of holdovers rounded out the Top Five. Vacation finished fourth with $9.1 million, while Ant-Man pocketed another $7.8 million for fifth. Ant-Man, by the way, has earned a grand total of $147.4 million in four weeks—not too shabby for Marvel’s smallest superhero. Perhaps the Fantastic Four should take notes.
Final figures update: 1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, $28.5 million; 2. Fantastic Four, $25.7 million; 3. The Gift, $11.9 million; 4. Vacation, $9 million; 5. Ant-Man, $7.9 million.