Men in Black International Suffers Lowest MIB Debut

Men in Black International Fails to Get an MCU Star Power Boost 

The two major releases over the weekend, 'Men in Black International' and 'Shaft' (2019), both failed to pull in audiences over what was another weekend of flopbuster debuts and epic drop-offs. Any potential Marvel halo effect was once again muted as even the star power of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson side-by-side again couldn't help Sony's fourth 'Men in Black' film debut to decent numbers nor could it give 'Shaft' (2019), starring Samuel L. Jackson, a debut win.

Domestic Box Office (est.) 14 to 16 June:
1. Men in Black International $28.5m (NR)
2. The Secret Life of Pets 2 $23.8m
3. Aladdin (2019) $16.7m
4. Dark Phoenix $9m 
5. Rocketman $8.8m 
6. Shaft (2019) $8.3m (NR)

(NR) = New Release

Men in Black International:

The weekend saw the release of Sony's 'Men in Black' spin-off/soft-reboot, 'Men in Black International', debut well behind the franchise's average sales. With Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth reteaming after the tremendous success of 'Thor: Ragnarok' (and 'Endgame'), there was hope at Sony that the fourth film in the MIB franchise would be the hit the studio needed after their attempt to restart the 'Ghostbusters' franchise crashed and burned in 2016 (with the second attempt to bring the iconic '80s series back next year in the works). However, 'Men in Black International's' debut weekend has been another swing and a miss, with the movie delivering the lowest opening in the franchise by over $20m in the US with its international haul down -19% against the international debut of 2012's 'MIB 3'.

'Men in Black' domestic debut grosses (unadjusted):
1997 - Men in Black $51.06m
2002 - Men in Black II $52.14m
2012 - MIB 3 $54.5m
2019 - Men in Black International $28.5m

Opening to $28.5m domestically and taking in $73.7m at the international box office, 'Men in Black International' debuted with $102.2m worldwide, ~$38m less than 'Dark Phoenix' debuted to the week before. Some headlines have played this down as merely a "disappointment" but there can be no hiding from the fact this is already a flop - for some perspective, 2016's 'Ghostbusters' reboot debuted to $46m in North America (at least 'MIB Int. has access to China).

There's also an argument that Sony simply spent too much on the film and this comeback instalment in the series should have aimed for a safer $60-70m production price tag with a sequel getting more money if this one found box office success - which is true. However, although the $110m production budget leaves the film destined to flop (needing approx. $380m to breakeven after the cinema split and marketing costs are factored in), the studio had already slashed the budget (if the online figures are accurate) compared to 2012's 'MIB 3' which had an eye-watering $225m production budget. Taking into account inflation, 'International's' $110m price tag would make it the cheapest movie in the franchise as the $90m spent to make 1997's 'Men in Black' would equate to roughly $143m in 2019 bucks. Still, that will all be little comfort for Sony after this weekend.

The 'Men in Black' Franchise - Worldwide Gross (unadjusted):
1. MIB 3 (2012) $624m v Budget $225m
2. Men in Black (1997) $589.4m v Budget $90m
3. Men in Black II (2002) $441.8m v Budget $140m
4. Men in Black International (2019) $102.2m (so far) v Budget $110m

With a B+ CinemaScore, 38% Metacritic rating, 5.6/10 on IMDb and a 24% v 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, there's a chance that it could even suffer a -70%+ drop-off next weekend, similar to the second-weekend collapse of 'Dark Phoenix' which was met with similar, if not slightly more positive, reviews.

The Secret Life of Pets 2:

Universal/Illumination's 'The Secret Life of Pets 2' dropped -49% over its second weekend, pulling in an additional $23.8m at the US box office, and $8.5m internationally, taking its worldwide total to $154.5m. In 2016, the first film debuted to $104.3m (domestic) and went on to gross $875.4m globally. 'The Secret Life of Pets 2' has a reported price tag of $80m (up only a bit of the $75m spent of the first movie) and as long as the marketing spend has been tight, ~$210-230m should at least see the movie breakeven.

Aladdin (2019):

Disney's 'Aladdin' (2019) held well again over the weekend, dropping -32.3%, bringing in another $16.7m in from the domestic box office and $47.5m internationally. Guy Ritchie's live-action re-imagining has now chalked up $263.4m in North America and $461.4m across international markets for a global cume of $724.8m. The film is well into the profit zone, but it will still struggle to make up for the dismal performance of 'Dumbo' (2019) and it's out of runway as 'Toy Story 4' bursts into theatres this weekend. All in all, 'Aladdin' (2019) has been a decent hit considering the reaction to the first trailer. However, one can't help but feel Disney would have expected this one to smash $1.2bn considering the love for the 1992 classic, and it's that love, especially for Robin Williams, that worked against it.

Dark Phoenix:

Disney's release of Fox's 'Dark Phoenix' was dead-on-arrival, with the lowest domestic debut ($32.8m) in the franchise's history, and now, over its second weekend, the Simon Kinberg-directed second bite at the 'Dark Phoenix Saga' crashed and burned.
In 2016, 'Batman v Superman' made headlines as its second-weekend domestic box office dropped -69.1%, now, topping that, 'Dark Phoenix' collapsed -72.6%. At least 'Dark Phoenix' didn't set a new record, the drop-off of -72.6% was just low enough to be only the "second worst" second-weekend drop for a wide release opening in >3,500 theatres, for now, 2015's 'Fifty Shades of Grey' still holds that record with a fall of -73.9%.

'Dark Phoenix', what should have been the last hurrah for the Fox-Men, will tumble out of theatres very soon and with a domestic haul of $51.76m, international cume of $152.5m for a total of $204.2m, it will be one of the lowest grossing Marvel-based movies since 2003's 'Hulk' ($245.4m), and it may even fail to beat 2007's 'Ghost Rider' ($228.7 m)... and that's not adjusted for inflation.


'Rocketman' dropped -36% and has now pulled in $133.14m worldwide against a $40m production budget.

Shaft (2019):

Lastly, and failing to crack the top 5, WB's release of 'Shaft' (2019) opened to $8.3m, approximately $7m short of modest expectations and well short of the $21.7m 'Shaft' (2000) debuted to.

Top 5 Films Worldwide 2019 so far...
1. Avengers: Endgame $2,742,491,359
2. Captain Marvel $1,127,892,604
3. Aladdin (2019) $724,846,314
4. The Wandering Earth $699,760,773
5. How to Train Your Dragon 3 $519,586,035

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