‘Inferno’ Fades as Box Office Battle With ‘Boo! A Madea Halloween’ Emerges

Expectations on Tom Hanks sequel get $10 million downgrade

Inferno Tom Hanks Felicity Jones
Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones (Sony)

Moviegoers may have been distracted by the Cubs getting clobbered in Game 3 of the World Series, as fewer than expected caught crime adventure sequel “Inferno” on Friday night.

The third movie starring Tom Hanks as Harvard symbology expert Robert Langdon was looking at a $25 million debut earlier in the week, but the latest estimates have its three-day debut set closer to $15.7 million.

That puts the only new wide release of the weekend in contention for No. 1 with returning title “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” which is expected to come in just over $15 million.

Now it’s looking like “Inferno” will earn less than half of what its 2009 predecessor, “Angels & Demons,” made when it debuted to $46.2 million — and went on to earn $133.4 million domestically.

The movie, also starring Felicity Jones, made $5.6 million on Friday alone and has a B+ CinemaScore — awarded by those surveyed on opening night. It has a low 20 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, which also likely contributed to lowered expectations.

Diminishing returns is something of a trend in the Dan Brown book-based series, as “Angels & Demons” opened to roughly half of what the original “The Da Vinci Code” made on its debut. The 2006 film opened to $77 million and went on to earn $217.5 million domestically.

Sony’s Columbia Pictures and Imagine Entertainment likely picked up on the trend as the spend on the “Inferno” production was $75 million (not counting marketing costs) — which is roughly half of the budget allotted to the two previous films in the series.

Domestic results are a bit beside the point, as the Robert Langdon movies have consistently made more than 70 percent of their global grosses abroad. “The Da Vinci Code” made $540.7 million overseas, for example.

“Inferno” opened first overseas and crossed the $100 million mark internationally earlier this week, TheWrap learned.

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Directed by Ron Howard, who helmed the past two films in the series, “Inferno” revolves around Langdon’s desperate race to head off a global pandemic by using Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” to unravel a mystery.

The film is open in 3,576 theaters (377 of those being IMAX and 400 are premium large format screens). Beyond the World Series, Halloween weekend could also be affecting turnout for the new title.