‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Opens Well Below Box Office Expectations With $10.5 Million Friday

Sixth “Terminator” film now unlikely to meet tracker projections of a $35-40 million opening

Terminator Dark Fate Arnold Schwarzenegger
Paramount Pictures

Despite better reviews and the return of James Cameron and Linda Hamilton, Paramount’s “Terminator: Dark Fate” is falling below pre-weekend trackers’ predicted $35-40 million opening at the box office, having grossed a dismal $10.6 million from 4,086 screens on Friday.

The film is now looking at a $26-27 million domestic opening weekend.

Such an opening would match the $27 million opening for 2015’s “Terminator: Genisys,” but that film opened on an extended July 4th weekend. With a very busy November slate coming up, this sequel’s box office hopes could be terminated very quickly.

Paramount co-financed the film’s $185 million budget with Skydance, Tencent and 20th Century Fox, with Tencent handling Chinese distribution and Fox handling all other overseas distribution. Tencent’s co-financing share is reported to be 10%, with all other studios contributing 30%. Reviews have been solid but not spectacular with 69% on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore.

Part of the reason for “Dark Fate” underperforming might be that its core audience is continuing to turn out for “Joker,” which is nearing $300 million domestic and $900 million worldwide with an estimated $13.5 million grossed in its fifth weekend. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is just behind with $13 million in its third weekend.

In fourth is the Focus Features biopic “Harriet,” which is opening slightly above expectations with an estimated $10.6 million from 2,059 screens. Starring Cynthia Erivo as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the film has a 73% Rotten Tomatoes score and an A+ from CinemaScore polls.

Much farther down the charts are this weekend’s two other wide releases: Warner Bros.’ “Motherless Brooklyn” and Entertainment Studios’ “Arctic Dogs,” both of which are estimated to open below projections with a $2.5-3 million opening. Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn” was released on 1,342 screens with a 62% Rotten Tomatoes score, while the animated “Arctic Dogs” was released on 2,844 screens with a B- on CinemaScore and no Rotten Tomatoes score yet.