Terminator Salvation prepared for battle a day early with a solid but disappointing $13.4 million Thursday launch from 3,480 theaters. That’s slightly more than half of the $25 million opening day from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was unleashed on the same Thursday last year. Indy was able to surge to $126.9 million over the Friday-Monday Memorial Day weekend thanks to strong family support. If Salvation follows the same pattern, the weekend total would be a respectable $70 million. Unfortunately for the Christian Bale starring film, despite the kid-friendly PG-13 rating, families have another option this year in the form of Ben Stiller.
Warner Bros. had hoped to revive the fledging franchise after the disappointing showing of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. Salvation’s trailer debuted in front of another WB juggernaut, The Dark Knight, last summer, which also starred Bale. After all, Bale was a key component in the resurrection of the Batman franchise. Unfortunately, the franchise may have not been as popular today as WB had hoped for. “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was recently cancelled after struggling through two seasons on Fox.
As far as how the weekend should play out for the sci-fi action pic, Friday’s numbers should be about the same as Thursday. There should be a slight uptick on Saturday to about $14.5 million and then a 10% decline on Sunday for about $13 million. Monday should bring in an additional $10 million for a $51 million weekend tally and $64 million including Thursday. That would be a poor showing considering the $200 million price tag.
Another sequel will be released on Friday in the form of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian at a mega-wide 4,096 theaters. In addition to the excellent release date, the PG-rated comedy is the first major family film in nearly two months. The original opened during the month of December, a release date which doesn’t generally yield massive opening weekends but instead the holidays allow films to display long legs. That’s exactly what Night at the Museum did with it’s $250.9 million domestic total, which was more than eight times the opening weekend. That kind of longevity will not happen for the latest Museum, but a much larger opening will help it keep pace. Ben Stiller’s latest should debut to a nice $60 million four day start.
Meanwhile, Star Trek held extraordinarily well in the face of direct competition. The $3 million it earned on Thursday was only 4% lower than Wednesday. The only downside for the sci-fi reboot is the loss of most of its IMAX screens on Friday to Night at the Museum 2. Still, strong word-of-mouth should carry it to $30 million over the long weekend for a fantastic running total of $192 million.
Angels & Demons has been slipping at a faster rate than Star Trek during the week so it should end up fourth for the weekend. The $2.6 million tally on Thursday brought the opening week total to $60.1 million, which is 41% lower than its predecessor’s first seven days. No one was expecting Angels & Demons to earn as much because of a less appealing storyline and mixed reactions to The Da Vinci Code scaring away many moviegoers. The good news for A&D is the second weekend drop-off should be less severe. Look for $28 million over the weekend for $88 million in 10 days.
Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo