The Quorum

THE FALL GUY Is The First Non-Superhero To Launch The Summer Box Office In 17 Years. How’s It Looking?

Something unique is happening on May 3rd. For over two decades, the first weekend in May has been the official start of the summer box office, and for every year since 2007, it’s been the domain of superhero films.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. We’re excluding the Covid years of 2020 and 2021 and 2018 and 2019 when Disney, in the 11th hour, moved AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS and AVENGERS: ENDGAME off the first weekend in May to the last weekend in April. No matter. They were still the #1 movies when May rolled around.

The plan was for that streak to continue this year, but when DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE moved off May 3rd due to strike-related delays, Universal swooped in and moved THE FALL GUY into that slot. FALL is now the first non-superhero film in 17 years to usher in the summer box office.

By superhero standards, we would expect FALL to open north of $100M. After all, that’s what nearly all the week one May superhero releases have done. As you can see below, the #1 films on this weekend grossed an average of $139M and a slightly higher median of $147M. Only four titles from this weekend grossed less than $100M, and the last to do it was THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 a decade ago.

But FALL is not a superhero movie, so perhaps expectations should be a bit lower. With a reported budget of $125M, we have FALL as being in the “tentpole” group. Films in this group include BARBIE, FAST X, and THE HUNGER GAMES: BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES. Most recently, DUNE: PART TWO opened to $83M from this group. The median opening for a tentpole film is $61M. Perhaps that is a better target for FALL.

However, FALL has one significant disadvantage relative to other films in this group. Almost all tentpole films are sequels or are based on well-known IP. Yes, FALL is based on the TV series of the same name from the 1980s, but it’s not a show that many people are familiar with. Lacking the brand recognition, FALL may struggle even to reach the median opening of $61M for the group.

With that said, let’s look at the FALL tracking. For this analysis, we’re using DUNE ($83M) as a high end comp and DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: HONOR AMONG THIEVES ($37M) on the low end. Looking at interest, FALL (dark blue) seems quite good. Interest is at 48%, higher than DUNE (light blue) and DRAGONS (black) at the same distance from release.

The numbers are more worrisome on the awareness side. At 34%, FALL (dark yellow) is above DRAGONS (brown) but well below DUNE (light yellow).

This is especially surprising given Universal’s support for the film. The studio launched the campaign on November 2nd (gray vertical bar) with a 3-minute trailer, which was supported by a 2-minute TV Spot during the NFL the following weekend.

Another trailer was released on February 11th for the Super Bowl, and yet, despite these costly media buys, awareness has only climbed four points from 30% to 34% over the four months since the first spot.

So, where do things stand with the film? The good news is that interest is quite strong. People want to see it. The bad news is that the campaign has struggled to build awareness so far. Fortunately, it’s easier to create awareness than interest. And with the plum May 3rd date, Universal will undoubtedly be spending quite a bit more to support the film.

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