The Fall Guy Passed A Minor Box Office Milestone - But It's Still Got A Big Hill To Climb

Pretty much anyone who writes or talks about the box office (myself included) has not been quiet about the fact that the summer season is off to a rough start. It certainly didn't help that the first third of 2024 was lagging more than 20% behind 2023 in terms of overall domestic ticket sales, which put undue pressure on the summer movie season to deliver the goods. Universal Pictures kicked off summer with "The Fall Guy" and, unfortunately, the film didn't quite deliver the goods on opening weekend. However, there is reason to be tepidly optimistic as Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt's action-heavy rom-com didn't collapse in its second weekend.

While "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes" conquered the box office with a $58.5 million opening, "The Fall Guy" managed to hold relatively strong in second place with $13.7 million in its second frame. That represents a 51% drop compared to its disappointing $27.7 million opening weekend. It now sits at $49.7 million domestically to go with $54 million internationally for a running global total of $103.7 million. So yes, it has passed the $100 million mark, which is good, but the decent hold puts director David Leitch's film in an odd spot.

It didn't fall off a cliff with a 60% drop or anything in its second weekend, which suggests good word of mouth from audiences. Be that as it may, it still dropped just over 50%, which is good but not great. Given that the movie underperformed so heartily in its first weekend, it needed a great hold to be outright optimistic about its long-term prospects. Now? We're still left to wonder how this one is going to shake out in the coming weeks/months. We know it's not going to be the hit Universal hoped for, but can it skirt disaster?

Can The Fall Guy turn it around at the box office?

Looming very, very large is the movie's $130 million net budget, which accounts for tax credits and whatnot. What that figure does not account for is the sizable marketing spend, as Universal went all-in on "The Fall Guy." The studio brought the film to SXSW and CinemaCon, in addition to doing a full, well-rounded media blitz. Nobody can say the studio didn't try like hell to make this movie work. But that all comes at a cost, and that money needs to be recouped. We're probably looking at a total spend of around $230 million. The studio only sees about half of the money from ticket sales returned. As a result, the math is currently unfriendly.

The big question will be what happens in the coming weeks. John Krasinski's family-friendly "IF" aims to pull in around $40 million this upcoming weekend, with "The Strangers: Chapter 1" and the Amy Winehouse biopic "Back to Black" also hitting theaters. The following weekend, we have "Furiosa" and "The Garfield Movie" entering the fold. If "The Fall Guy" can still hold strong in the face of such competition, there's a fighting chance. But we're still a long ways away from this movie getting to north of $300 million, which is likely what it needs to make at a minimum to be considered a success on any level. Universal can help its cause here by not rushing the movie to VOD, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. 

Looking ahead, the film is due to open in China this weekend, but Hollywood films have had a tough time breaking out in the country in the pandemic era. It will also arrive in Japan later this summer in August. Who knows? Maybe this will be 2024's "Elemental" and go on an unexpected tear. I kindly doubt it, but such a result would be nice for a movie that both critics and audiences like quite a bit.

"The Fall Guy" is in theaters now.