With Paramount’s Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi epic “Terminator: Genisys” and Warner Bros.’ male stripper tale “Magic Mike: XXL” opening Wednesday and holdovers “Jurassic World” and ‘Inside Out” still going strong, there should be plenty of fireworks at the box office over the 4th of July holiday weekend.
Think of the four movies as Roman candles — all expected to land in the $50 million range for the five days — with fuses lit at the same time. One will burn a little hotter and faster than the others, and skyrocket higher than the others.
“We have a good shot,” said Dan Fellman, distribution chief at Warner Bros, “We’re definitely something different.”
That’s certainly true of the R-rated “Magic Mike: XXL,” starring Channing Tatum, Joe Mangianello, Matt Bomer and Andie MacDowell, and not just because it’s about hard-bodied dudes in g-strings. Its production budget is less than $15 million.
The studio is hoping to replicate the same low-cost, high-return formula that made a breakout hit of the original “Magic Mike,” which grossed $167 million globally on a $7 million budget in 2012. Star Matthew McConaughey isn’t back for the sequel, nor is director Steven Soderbergh, though his assistant Gregory Jacobs has the helm.
The production budget of the PG-13-rated “Terminator: Genisys” is more than 10 times that of “XXL,” and the stakes are even higher for Paramount and partner Skydance Productions, because sequels are scheduled for 2017 and 2018.
Given the domestic projections, it’s clear that a strong international run will be needed for “Genisys” to be profitable. Last weekend, it pulled in $8.3 million from 10 small territories, and this weekend it will roll out in roughly 60 percent of its foreign markets.
Schwarzenegger has struggled at the box office since returning to films after his stint as California’s governor, and “Genisys” will test the theory that he’ll be back as a box office force when he’s featured in a known franchise. His co-stars will be Jason Clarke, Emilia Clark, Jai Courtney and J.K. Simmons, and Alan Taylor directs the action film from a script by Reid Carlin.
This is the fifth film in the “Terminator” franchise, which dates back to 1990. James Cameron wrote and directed the original “Terminator” and its sequel “Judgment Day.” Whether moviegoers recall those stylish epics and their ground-breaking special effects, or the two subsequent sequels, which were less well-received, could have a lot to do with the performance of “Genisys.”
The two fresh openers will likely lead the box office on Wednesday and Friday, but “Jurassic World” and “Inside Out” could take over on Friday, depending on how moviegoers respond to the newbies.
Advance sales suggest “Magic Mike” could have a slight edge, as do the early reviews. “Genisys” is at a not-so-hot 33 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, while the stripper tale is at a decent 60 percent.
This holiday weekend should be better than last year, when “Terminator: Age of Extinction” was No. 1 with a lackluster $37 million in its second week that set the tone for a dismal summer. The fact that the holiday fell on a Friday hurt: Not only were there no extra days off for moviegoers, but many were busy lighting their own fireworks on the actual holiday. The situation will be much the same this year, with Saturday likely to be off as much as 35 percent from Friday.
“Magic Mike: XXL” will be in 3,335 theaters, while “Terminator: Genisys” will be in roughly 3,700, including a full complement of IMAX screens that it will take over from “Jurassic World.”