Box Office Battle: Ethan Hunt Clobbers the Fantastic Four

It was clobbering time, but not for The Thing and his Fantastic Four teammates. The latest Marvel superhero movie (distributed by Fox, not by Disney/Marvel) failed to meet even the mildest of expectations, earning only $26.2 million at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend, according to estimates.

It was forecasted to make $40 to $50 million, even in the face of horrific, year-long anti-buzz and terrible reviews. After all, comic book properties are gold–especially ones with brand name recognition–and it was assumed that even terrible reviews wouldn’t scare audiences away in its opening weekend.

But they did.

Fantastic Four is an oddly terrible movie–it is bad, but not in the same way that most bad movies are bad (like the last two Fantastic Four movies)–and one that is extremely frustrating because you can see the untapped potential lingering just between the surface. Read my review for more on what went wrong.

Whether the movie’s faults are director Josh Trank’s (who, according to various reports, was so hard to work with at times that the film’s producer had him fired from directing an upcoming Star Wars anthology film) or the studio’s (Trank publicly blamed Fox on Twitter) or, more likely, some combination of the two, we may never know. But what we do know is that bad reviews combined with bad word-of-mouth led to a disastrous opening weekend, at least for a movie with a budget of at least $120 million  (and possibly higher thanks to last-minute reshoots).

Coming in first place was Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, which earned a solid $29.4 million in its second weekend, down a reasonable 47%. The movie has now earned over $108 million in the United States.

In the end, it was Ethan Hunt who did the clobbering.

On a positive note, unlike The Fantastic Four, the thriller The Gift beat expectations, earning $12 million in a smaller number of theaters. The Joel Edgerton thriller has earned rave reviews (in truth, it’s a thriller that will appeal more to critics than regular audiences) and could see a solid run through the remnants of summer.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Box Office, Comic Book Movies, Featured, Science Fiction Movies