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‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Brings Franchise Crashing Down as $100 Million Box Office Bomb

Neither Linda Hamilton nor James Cameron's long-awaited returns to the "Terminator" franchise will save "Dark Fate" from being a box office disaster.

Linda Hamilton stars in Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures' "TERMINATOR: DARK FATE."

“Terminator: Dark Fate”


Following the disastrous opening of Paramount’s “Gemini Man” in October, the studio got its second major fall release box office bomb this weekend with the dismal opening of “Terminator: Dark Fate.” The new Paramount release had been projected to open in the $40 million ballpark but only grossed $29 million in the U.S. and $102 million oversees, a sign the film’s international box office won’t be enough to save it. Despite solid reviews and the highly-touted returns of James Cameron and Linda Hamilton to the franchise, “Dark Fate” barely opened higher than 2015’s despised “Terminator Genisys” (a $27 million start in the U.S.).

“Dark Fate” cost $185 million to produce. Variety reports the movie’s marketing and distribution budget was in the $80 million and $100 million range, which means the movie would have to gross in the $450 million range in order to turn a profit. For comparison, “Genisys” tapped out at $440 million worldwide in 2015 after opening in the same margin. Box office analysts tell Variety “Dark Fate” is heading to a final worldwide gross between $180 million and $200 million, which would result in a loss of $100 million or more.

The one saving grace behind “Terminator: Dark Fate” bombing at the box office is that it was financed by Paramount, Skydance, and Disney (via 20th Century Fox), so the film’s losses will be split among the studios and not piled solely onto Paramount. Should “Dark Fate” drop quickly at the box office, it could even approach losses at or above $120 million. Box office analysts tell Variety the film might not even make it past $70 million at the U.S. box office.

Between “Gemini Man” and “Dark Fate,” Paramount is having a rough time at the fall box office. “Gemini Man” is expected to lose Paramount at least $60 million. The two films join Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch” as the major box office bombs of the fall season.

“Dark Fate” was supposed to be the studio’s major fall tentpole and was heralded by critics as being the best “Terminator” release since Cameron’s first sequel “T2: Judgement Day.” Based on these opening weekend numbers, it appears overall interest in the “Terminator” franchise has waned. For more on this weekend’s box office totals, read IndieWire’s full analysis here.

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