Box Office: ‘Furiosa’ and ‘The Garfield Movie’ Tie for No. 1 With $31 Million in Bleak Memorial Day Weekend Battle

Imperator Furiosa has battled ruthless kidnappers, raider attacks and maniacal warlords as she traverses a lawless Wasteland. And yet her fiercest adversary, at least today, seems to be a lazy cat who loves lasagna.

The Warner Bros. high-octane prequel “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is facing off against Sony’s animated “The Garfield Movie” for first place on box office charts over Memorial Day weekend. Each movie has generated roughly $25 million over the weekend and an estimated $31 million through Monday. Both studios are reporting that its own movie has ranked No. 1. Whichever pulls ahead, it’ll be the worst Memorial Day opening weekend in nearly three decades.

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For movie theaters, it’s yet another sparkless weekend at the summer box office — with recent would-be blockbusters ranging from just fine (“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” with a $58 million debut) to disappointing (“The Fall Guy” with a $27 million debut; “IF” with a $33 million debut). So far, cinemas have been without a movie to electrify the moviegoing masses — though June and July releases like “Deadpool & Wolverine,” “Despicable Me 4” and “Inside Out 2” hope to change that narrative. Until then, overall ticket sales are stubbornly 22% behind the same point last year and a concerning 41% behind 2019, according to Comscore. Box office comparisons to the same holiday weekend in 2023 are tough — down by nearly 36% — given that Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” remake took the crown with $118 million.

“No matter how you slice it,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian, “this was not a rip-roaring holiday weekend for theaters.”

“Furiosa” collected an additional $33.3 million at the international box office for a global tally of $58.9 million. Heading into the weekend, “Furiosa,” the fifth entry in director George Miller’s post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” series, looked to pull in $40 million to $45 million domestically over the four-day holiday weekend — and even that wouldn’t have been a stellar start given the film’s $168 million price tag. Now, it’ll have a hard time living up to its predecessor, 2015’s “Max Max: Fury Road,” which captured $45 million over three days and ultimately grossed $380 million globally. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron led “Fury Road,” which was released 26 years after the original “Max Max” and hailed as one of the greatest action movies of all time.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth star in “Furiosa,” which hasn’t received that level of praise but has been widely embraced by critics and audiences. Analysts believe that “Furiosa” missed the box office mark because, despite the hype from “Fury Road,” the R-rated prequel didn’t appeal beyond its core demographic of older male moviegoers. And in general, prequels are a tougher sell because, well, audiences know generally how those stories end.

Reviews aren’t the selling point of “The Garfield Movie,” which holds a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences were fond of the animated film voiced by Chris Pratt and Samuel L. Jackson. It landed a “B+” on CinemaScore, the same grade as “Furiosa.” And “The Garfield Movie” cost a lot less, carrying a price tag of $60 million. It’s already generated $66.3 million overseas, bringing its worldwide tally to $91.1 million.

“‘Garfield’ is not among the animation elites, but it’s reasonably budgeted,” says David A. Gross of movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “It’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”

This weekend’s other newcomer, Angel Studio’s faith-based biographical drama “Sight,” landed with a thud in seventh place with $2.9 million from 2,100 theaters over the weekend and an estimated $3.6 million through Monday. Moviegoers liked the film, which tells the story of a Chinese immigrant who moves to the United States and becomes a renowned eye surgeon; it landed an “A” CinemaScore. But these lackluster ticket sales indicate that not every release from Angel Studios has the appeal of last summer’s sleeper hit, “Sound of Freedom.”

Elsewhere, Paramount’s “IF,” a fantasy-comedy directed by John Krasinski and starring Ryan Reynolds, dropped to third place. The family film, which topped the box office last weekend, added $16.1 million between Friday and Sunday and an estimated $21 million through Monday, bringing its domestic tally to $63.5 million and $103 million worldwide. “IF” cost $110 million to make and many millions more to market, so it’s counting on staying power through the summer to justify its budget.

In fourth place, “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” collected $13.4 million over the weekend and an estimated $17.1 million through Monday. So far, the fourth chapter in the Disney and 20th Century’s “Apes” reboot franchise has generated $126 million domestically and $294 million globally after three weekends of release. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which cost $160 million, is chugging along, but it needs plenty more momentum to match its predecessors, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” ($481 million), “War for the Planet of the Apes” ($490 million) and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (a series-best $710 million).

Universal’s “The Fall Guy,” an action-comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, rounded out the top five with $5.9 million over the weekend and an estimated $7.6 million through Monday. After four weekends on the big screen, the $140 million-budgeted movie is stalling with just $73.8 million in North America and $143 million worldwide.

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