‘The Fall Guy,’ ‘Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Launch 2024 Summer Movie Season

by 24britishtvApril 23, 2024, 4 p.m. 20
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Next week brings the start of May and the launch of the 2024 summer movie season, with The Fall Guy on tap May 3rd and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes May 10th. The first weekend of May is typically staked out by the biggest Marvel Studios IP or another top-tier blockbuster franchise, but this year, all bets are off.

As I discussed yesterday, 2024’s first quarter is enjoying relatively good numbers due overperformances by Dune: Part Two, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, and Kung Fu Panda 4. This gave the first quarter a nice boost ahead of what’s expected to be another rough year at the box office.

The next opportunity for a new blockbuster performance arrives the weekend after next, when The Fall Guy drops into theaters. Trailers have done an excellent job setting the stage for a strong debut, and Ryan Gosling’s star is shining brightly after his performance in last summer’s billion dollar blockbuster hit Barbie.

The Fall Guy will probably land somewhere around $40 million domestically on its freshman weekend, but has a shot at overperforming if word of mouth — and crucially, interest among women and girls, whom I think will show up in bigger numbers than expected — is solid enough.

While at first glance this appears to be an action-packed “guy” film, I believe it has great potential to be a breakout hit loved by men and women alike. I don’t remotely expect Barbie numbers, but don’t be surprised if The Fall Guy beats estimates with high numbers and low drops.

Still, remember that pre-pandemic we’d be seeing $85-100 million openings for the first two weeks of May and the summer movie season overall.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes arrives May 10th with hopes of reviving the franchise to its former box office glory. I expect Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes to dominate the start of summer movie season with a North American opening in the range of $50-60 million. However, like The Fall Guy, we’re talking about numbers significantly lower than the glory days of Marvel superheroes and other franchise titans consistently delivering $100-200 million weekends.

That said, the titles expected to shoulder the burden this year are hardly on par with such previous top-tier performers. So if The Fall Guy can’t play at the same level as a Top Gun sequel or an Avengers movie, it’s forgiven.

Likewise, Planet of the Apes is a big franchise, but it’s also one that typically played in the mid-tier blockbuster range, reaching its $710 million pinnacle with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That film also saw the series’ biggest opening weekend at $72 million stateside. So this is a legacy sequel that’s consistently popular but not always — rarely, in fact — a top-tier performer, and it’s in fact the sort of legacy sequel that we’ve seen fail repeatedly over the past several pandemic years.

Meaning a $55 million start might be a welcome outcome regardless of how it sounds in the context of traditional May theatrical performances. And Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes still hopes to do perhaps $100 million in its internationally bow, which would give it a nice $150 million (plus or minus) opening.

With a respectably modest budget in the neighborhood of $125 million and a smart marketing campaign so far, Kingdom’s bar for success is relatively low here, and I expect it to have a nice $400-500 million run — that’s sight unseen, so my predictions might change as we get closer to release and I review the film.

One way to view this situation is to consider that theatrical is still lagging due to a combination of factors, including the pandemic, home entertainment’s rising primacy (converging with pandemic lockdowns), audience fatigue with certain trends (including superheroes, nostalgic legacy sequels, shared-universe attempts), perceived decline in quality in certain series and genres, and economic factors.

In that context, then, and minus the certainty usual afforded by big branded IP capable of delivering the sort of summer season kick-offs we’ve grown accustomed to, we could instead look at Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and The Fall Guy as sort of a second-tier and a third-tier franchise teaming up to deliver top-tier franchise box office numbers.

If both perform at the high end of potential, they might hypothetically generate $100 million in combined opening domestic receipts, and $1 billion total combined box office. All of that on modest budgets that combine toward the investments a top-tier expensive franchise sequel would demand.

Again, admittedly an effort to make some sense of it all in the ongoing theatrical environment. But it’s also possible that thinking about film releases and pairing or alternating them to adapt to continued problems with distribution and theatrical models is a good strategy. It spreads risks around while deploying solid franchise performers and freeing up funds to experiment with projects that otherwise get ignored when big-budget top-tier blockbusters suck up all of the funding.

This isn’t a longterm answer to the problems plaguing theatrical, of course. But it’s a plan that can help mitigate the damage while forcing studios to come up with better approaches, get budgets under control, and rely on a more diverse mix of genres and storytelling going forward.

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