Box Office Preview: ‘The Fall Guy’ Eyes $30 Million-Plus Debut as Summer Movie Season Revs Up

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, two essential ingredients in the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, will leave Barbieland and Los Alamos behind them as they team up for “The Fall Guy.” But will audiences turn up in force to see the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” stars when their new action comedy debuts this weekend?

Well, “The Fall Guy” isn’t going to hit those films’ box office heights, but it should have no trouble topping charts as it kicks off the summer movie season. The film is expected to earn north of $30 million, with some rival studio executives pegging the opening at between $35 million to $40 million. The catch is that movie wasn’t cheap to produce, boasting a healthy budget of $130 million, so “The Fall Guy” will need strong word-of-mouth if it’s going to leg it out on the long path to profitability. It will also need to do well overseas. “The Fall Guy” has already opened in 38 international territories, including Australia (where it was shot to take advantage of tax credits), Israel and Central America, earning $8.4 million. It opens in more than 40 additional markets this weekend including the U.K., Germany, France and Mexico.

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“The Fall Guy” finds Gosling playing a ex-stuntman who is lured back into the business to work on a massive studio movie that is being directed by his ex (Blunt). Complicating things, the star of the production (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has gone missing. “The Fall Guy” is directed by David Leitch, who previously oversaw “Bullet Train” and “Atomic Blonde,” and who was a stunt man himself. The cast also includes Hannah Waddingham, Winston Duke and Stephanie Hsu. “The Fall Guy” will open in more than 3,800 North American venues.

In terms of competition, “The Fall Guy” will face the second weekend of Amazon MGM Studios’ “Challengers,” which took first place last weekend with a $15 million debut, as well as the opening of “Tarot,” a low-budget horror film from Sony and Screen Gems that should earn between $5 million to $6 million. That’s not bad considering that “Tarot” only cost $8 million to produce and the studio is doing an all-digital marketing campaign (none of those pricey TV spots), which should keep costs low. “Tarot” will screen in roughly 3,000 locations.

And it’s been 25 years since Jar Jar Binks first flitted across screens. In honor of that anniversary and in celebration of May the Fourth (aka “Star Wars Day”), Disney and LucasFilm will re-release “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in over 2,600 domestic theaters. Last year, the studio did something similar with “Return of the Jedi,” which was celebrating its 40th anniversary, and saw it gross $5.1 million. A similar result for “Phantom Menace” doesn’t seem out of reach.

With the domestic box office down more than 20%, exhibitors are desperate for some blockbusters to fill their screens. But the actors and writers strikes, combined with COVID delays, have left studios with fewer movies to release. Movie theaters are hoping that films like “The Fall Guy” will over-perform expectations and that other upcoming releases like “Despicable Me 4” and “Deadpool & Wolverine” will bring back fans of their respective franchises. If they don’t, cinemas are in for a summer without much sizzle.

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