Ryan Gosling’s ‘The Fall Guy’ Opens to Soft $28.5 Million Despite High Expectations

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In the scintillating world of Hollywood, another summer movie season made its expected yet frenzied entrance with “The Fall Guy”. The much-anticipated Ryan Gosling starrer— an exuberant action-comedy paying homage to the uncelebrated stunt performers— made its debut at the box office. However, the weekend estimates released by the studio on Sunday indicated a rather underwhelming start with a collection of $28.5 million, falling short of the industry forecast.

Throughout the years, high-octane superhero releases from the Marvel franchise, regularly raking in more than $100 million over their inaugural weekends, have had a stronghold over early summer releases. To illustrate, 2023 saw “The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” open to a phenomenal $118 million. However, the disrupting strikes of the previous year have thrown off this year’s movie timeline causing the originally scheduled “Deadpool & Wolverine” to debut later in July, thus opening up an unanticipated slot.

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Making hay while the sun shines, “The Fall Guy” seized the opportunity, dubbing the stunt performers who dare to lend their bodies to action-filled blockbusters as the real superheroes. Prior anticipations had set the opening collection forecast between a pretty promising $30 and $40 million.

Directed by former stuntman turned director, David Leitch— famed for his directorial prowess in “Deadpool 2”— the film entered the weekend hot on the heels of sparkling reviews and the buzz of a successful SXSW premiere. Yet, for the $130 million film to validate its production budget, it would need to maintain this initial momentum. At the same time, it grossed an additional $25.4 million in the overseas market.

Yet, all is not lost. Looking ahead, “The Fall Guy” has a lineup of strong audience scores—an “A-” from CinemaScore—to its credit along with an 83% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Universal’s distribution chief, Jim Orr stands firmly behind the film’s potential. Orr optimistically stated, “We had a very solid opening. We’re looking forward to a very long, very robust, very successful run throughout the domestic box office for weeks if not months to come.”

Still, the film industry remains on its toes, as the usually reliable superhero movies grapple to maintain their box-office stronghold. Thus, studios have been on the lookout for fresh alternatives. “The Fall Guy”— with its blend of grandiose action sequences, award-winning star power, commendable reviews, and a director with a knack for crowd-pleasers— seemed to tick all the right boxes.

Yet, the opening box office collections of the film, a loose adaptation of the 1980s television series, primarily serve as a reminder of the film industry’s struggle to replicate last year’s summer success. Starring Oscar nominees Ryan Gosling in his first role since ‘Ken’ and Emily Blunt of “Oppenheimer”, its lukewarm opening only underscored the daunting challenge ahead for the film industry.

Senior media analyst for Comscore, Paul Dergarabedian, summed up the intriguing predicament, “It’s going to be a very interesting, nontraditional summer this year.” Undoubtedly, the delayed effects of last year’s work strikes have led to fewer major releases. Thus, the total summer box office collections might gravitate towards $3 billion, substantially less than the usual $4 billion.

Nevertheless, Dergarabedian concludes, “The summer season is just getting started, so let’s give ‘The Fall Guy’ a chance to build that momentum over time. It’s a different type of summer kickoff film. There’s always huge expectations placed on any film that kicks off the summer movie season, but this isn’t your typical summer movie season.”

In rather surprising news, the runner-up position went to Walt Disney Co.’s rerelease of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”. The often underappreciated prequels by George Lucas collected a solid $8.1 million a quarter of a century after “Phantom Menace” grossed $1 billion.

Following closely, last week’s top film, the tennis drama “Challengers” starring Zendaya, ended in third place, amassing an admirable $7.6 million in its second week. The Amazon MGM release, directed by Luca Guadagnino, held steady even after dipping 49% from its opening weekend.

The supernatural horror film “Tarot”, a Sony Screen Gems production, also debuted nationwide. It brought in a decent $6.5 million, a commendable opening for a low-budget film, although it reflects a slightly waning interest in horror films this year compared to previous years.

Estimated ticket sales for the opening weekend showed “The Fall Guy” leading the pack with $28.5 million, followed by “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” ($8.1 million), “Challengers,” ($7.6 million), “Tarot,” ($6.5 million), “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” ($4.5 million) and so on. Final domestic figures for the opening weekend will be disclosed on Monday.