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#BoxOffice Report: #MissionImpossible Tops Bad #FantasticFour

The Fantastic Four utterly fails as Ethan Hunt triumphs again.

Story by Matt Cummings

In a devastating blow to one of 20th Century Fox's tentpoles, The Fantastic Four drew one of the lowest opening box office tallies for a super hero film, bringing in just $26.2 million from 3,995 US theaters. That's after receiving a crushing 8% from Rotten Tomatoes critics and a tidal wave of poor audience feedback including a 'C-' from CinemaScore. Perhaps what's more surprising is that the Tom Cruise spy action/thriller Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation easily won the weekend box office with an estimated $29.4 million from 3,988 theaters. That down just 48% from its opening, bringing its 10-day total to $109.5m. We were estimating a much closer race, and perhaps even a defeat for Ethan Hunt and his IMF team.

There's little doubt that Josh Trank's film was torpedoed both internally and externally, capping off with a Tweet on Thursday by the director which was later deleted. In it, he told audiences that Fox stole his picture, forcing a series of re-shoots that actually made the third act worse. But perhaps M:I's resiliency is also based on its strong word of mouth and critical love, receiving an 'A-' rating from CinemaScore, along with an impressive 93% audience and 92% critic score from Rotten Tomatoes. Based on the lack of compelling titles being released throughout August (including the relatively unknown The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the potentially divisive Straight Outta Compton), Rogue Nation could play well into September.

But the numbers between 2 and 3 are very different, making the next contender - the surprising Joel Edgerton-directed The Gift with $12m from 2,503 theaters - seem rather distant. The Gift — a tense thriller perhaps similar to Seven and Fatal Attraction — also stars Jason Bateman and scored a solid CinemaScore 'B'. At fourth is Vacation with just $9.15m for a total of $37m. Rounding out the top five is Marvel’s Ant-Man with around $8m for a four-week total of $147.4m. Considering all the bad lead-up to its release, the Paul Rudd caper film continues to impress.

Other new releases - like Meryl Streep's Ricki and The Flash at No. 7 (CinemaScore of 'B') and the animated Shaun the Sheep at No. 11 - did not meet Hollywood's estimates. Neither seemed to hit their intended demographics, even though Shaun enjoys a love affair with critics at an unbelievable 99%.

As we talked about on our Inside the Bucket podcast on Sunday, studios like Universal are enjoying record numbers, August is actually down 30% from 2014, which was led by Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There doesn't seem to be (yet) that 2015 release which will draw the crowds like Rise of the Planet of the Apes or The Bourne Ultimatum did (both August movies), but it's early and anything can happen. One thing is clear: audiences continue to send a strong message about their disdain for the current run of box office offerings. Given the lack of buzz for Man from U.N.C.L.E., we could see even lower numbers next week, if word of mouth doesn't carry or it stumbles with critics.

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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