Reviews for the newest Terminator movie have been largely positive. It has certainly looked like fans of the franchise are finally going to get the Terminator movie they've been waiting for since Judgement Day came out back in 1991. However, based on the first batch of box office results, it looks like many fans may have already written off the franchise. Terminator: Dark Fate opened in 10 countries this past weekend and was only able to drum up $12.8 million in business.
Many of the regions where Terminator: Dark Fate opened this past weekend are, it is true, not major box office territories. Nobody is expecting to get millions of dollars out of Thailand, Sweden or Singapore. However, the film also opened in France, Germany, and the U.K. and those countries are certainly capable of doing some real business, but didn't do it here.
While it's unclear exactly how the $12.8 million, reported by BoxOfficeMojo, in international business breaks down between countries, any way you slice it, it has to be lower than the studio was expecting. Joker, another R-rated franchise movie, grossed over $15 million in the U.K. alone on its opening weekend. Even the much-maligned Terminator: Genisys did better than $12.8 million on its opening weekend in the European territories that saw Dark Fate this weekend, before we even add in the Asian markets.
It's hard to say just what an opening like this means. While this is still only a small fraction of the global release Terminator: Dark Fate is going to see, it's certainly not a case of putting the best foot forward. Still, it's always possible that these countries could end up being outliers in a box office total that ends up being huge.
North America and China are the box office numbers that really matter. The previous Terminator movie, Genisys, didn't break the bank domestically, but it did really well in China, which is likely a big part of the reason that we're even getting another Terminator movie so soon. There's every reason to believe that Dark Fate can have a repeat performance in China, and if the generally good reviews help drive fans in North America to give the franchise one more chance, Terminator will be fine, regardless of these early low numbers.
Terminator: Dark Fate tries to be a shot of adrenaline to the franchise by bringing back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner. It's something the movies have clearly needed. There hasn't been a well-regarded sequel since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the last one Hamilton was in. It could be that for these early audiences it's all too little too late and they've given up. If domestic audiences have done the same, regardless of the better reviews, then Terminator: Dark Fate may be in for a rude box office awakening.
Early projections had the movie opening somewhere between $35-$45 million domestically, which, while not massive numbers, would be solid returns for a franchise that has rarely blown away the box office. We'll just have to wait and see if those projections hold up.