Skip to main content

'Furiosa,' 'Garfield' lead slowest Memorial Day box office in decades

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Anya Taylor-Joy in a scene from "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP) This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Anya Taylor-Joy in a scene from "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Movie theaters are looking more and more like a wasteland this summer. Neither “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” nor “The Garfield Movie” could save Memorial Day weekend, which is cruising towards a two-decade low.

“Furiosa,” the Mad Max prequel starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, claimed the first place spot for the Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend with US$25.6 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Warner Bros. is waiting until Monday to release its four-day estimates.

“The Garfield Movie,” animated and family-friendly, was the other big new offering this weekend from Sony’s Columbia Pictures and Alcon Entertainment. It is claiming No. 1 for the four-day holiday weekend with an estimated US$31.9 million in ticket sales through Memorial Day. Sony estimates its three-day earnings to be US$24.8 million.

Aside from Memorial Day in 2020 when theaters were closed due to COVID-19, these are the lowest earning No. 1 movies in 29 years, since “Casper” earned US$22.5 million (not adjusted for inflation) in its first four days in 1995. Big earners are more typical for the holiday weekend, which has had ten movies crack US$100 million, led by “Top Gun: Maverick’s” record-setting US$160 million launch in 2022. Last year, the live-action “The Little Mermaid” joined the group with a US$118 million debut. Audiences even turned out in greater numbers over the pandemic-addled weekend in 2021 for “A Quiet Place Part II,” which made over US$57 million.

“Furiosa” was never expected to join the US$100 million opener club, which Warner Bros. released on 3,804 screens in the U.S. and Canada. But it was supposed to have a slightly stronger showing in the US$40 million range over its first four days. That would have been more in line with its predecessor, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which opened to US$45.4 million in May 2015. “Fury Road,” starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, went on to gross nearly US$380 million worldwide.

This new origin story in which Taylor-Joy plays a younger version of Theron’s character had a lot of things going for it, too, including strong reviews out of the just-wrapped Cannes Film Festival (it has an 89 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes) and a splashy international press tour with many buzzy premiere looks from Taylor-Joy. With a reported US$168 million production budget, not accounting for marketing and promotion, “Furiosa” has a long road to profitability.

“The Garfield Movie,” meanwhile, was more modestly budgeted, at a reported US$60 million. Chris Pratt voices the lasagna-loving, Monday-hating orange cat in the movie that got scathing reviews from critics (it has a 37 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes). Audiences meanwhile gave both “Furiosa” and “The Garfield Movie” a B+ CinemaScore and 4.5 stars out of 5 on PostTrak.

In its second weekend, John Krasinski’s “IF” fell 53 per cent, adding US$16 million through Sunday and US$20.7 million through Monday, bringing its domestic total to US$63.3 million. Worldwide, it has surpassed US$100 million. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” now in its third weekend, added US$13.4 million through Sunday, bringing its global total to US$294.8 million, making it the fourth-highest grossing film of the year.

Earlier this week, the industry trade The Hollywood Reporter asked “ what happened to the US$100 million opener? ” Notably, 2023 has had none yet. The biggest of the year was “Dune: Part Two,” which opened to US$82.5 million and went on to earn over US$711 million worldwide.

The lack of a recent runaway hit just puts more pressure on the upcoming films to make up the slack. Still on the way are a slew of potential blockbusters like Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 27), Universal’s “Despicable Me 4” (July 3) and “Twisters” (July 19) and two heavy-hitters from Disney: “Inside Out 2” (June 14) and “Deadpool & Wolverine” (July 26). Top Stories

Baseball legend Willie Mays has died at 93

Willie Mays, the electrifying 'Say Hey Kid' whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball's greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93.

Strange monolith pops up in Nevada desert

Jutting out of the rocks in a remote mountain range near Las Vegas, the strange monolith imitates the vast desert landscape surrounding the mountain peak where it has been erected.

Local Spotlight