Long Range Forecast: Terminator: Dark Fate, Plus a Big Joker Update

This week’s report includes a number of updates, most notably on two fan-driven franchises highlighted in our coverage below.

Terminator: Dark Fate
Opening Weekend Range: $35 – 45 million


  • The reunion of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor character for the first time since 1991’s blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a fair selling point for die hard fans of the franchise, especially with the promise of at least one or two more cameos/roles by veteran actors of James Cameron’s original two films.

  • Speaking of Cameron, his role as a hands-on producer with this sequel has fans arguably more intrigued than they were for the three sequels since Cameron last helmed a film in the franchise. Featured heavily in marketing already, his behind-the-scenes presence already helped Alita: Battle Angel achieve solid worldwide grosses earlier this year.

  • After early October’s Joker, there aren’t many releases on the slate catering to men of a certain age until mid-November’s Ford v. Ferrari and 21 Bridges. If this entry truly does win back jaded fans and casual audiences, there could be room for more staying power than 2015’s Terminator: Genisys showed at the box office.

  • Despite bearish expectations stateside, global potential is significant for this sequel given Cameron and the franchise’s pull with overseas audiences: Alita earned 79 percent of its $405 million worldwide box office from international territories, and Terminator: Genisys itself earned 80 percent of its $440.6 million global run outside North America. A similar share is to be expected for Dark Fate.


  • Regardless of fan anticipation for what Cameron might do (along with Deadpool director Tim Miller) to restore confidence in the series, the Terminator franchise has seen a sharp rate of declining returns with each sequel made over the last 16 years. 2003’s Rise of the Machines ($150.4 million) earned 27 percent less than Judgment Day ($205.9 million) domestically, 2009’s Salvation ($125.3 million) dropped 17 percent from there, and 2015’s Genisys ($89.8 million) dropped another 28 percent at the box office. The latter two have audience scores of just 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Initial teaser trailer reactions were largely mixed online and didn’t inspire enough confidence to suggest this would break out beyond the target fan base. The most recent trailer has seen more positive reception, but there’s still work to be done in the marketing department if this is going to reverse the franchise’s trend.

  • Comparable franchises have also continued to lose audience interest, with 2017’s Alien: Covenant ($74.3 million) being a fair comparison due to the number of sequels in its franchise and the fan hype for its original filmmaker (Ridley Scott) at the helm. Similar to the Alien franchise, the confusion of exactly how Dark Fate relates (or doesn’t relate) to recent Terminator films adds a confusing barrier to entry for the uninitiated.

Notable Updates This Week

  • The frame of September 20 continues to look very competitive, with outlooks now favoring a possible #1 debut for Rambo: Last Blood and a closer race than expected between Ad Astra and Downton Abbey.

  • Models for Joker continue to improve by leaps and bounds with each passing week. Of notable impact in recent days has been the film’s hugely positive reception at Venice Film Festival and the ensuing wave of gushing critics’ reviews. Online chatter is embracing the hype, and our metrics now point to this clearly being the “water cooler” type of movie that inspires interest from a variety of demographics — not unlike another creepy clown movie from Warner Bros. in September 2017. We remain cautious in expectations for staying power as the R-rated film is likely to be divisive among general audiences, but odds at becoming the first-ever $100 million+ opener in October history look increasingly favorable. At the very least, becoming one of the biggest R-rated debuts ever and topping Venom‘s standing $80.3 million record for October look like safe bets for now.

8-Week Forecast

Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Forecast % Chg from Last Week Estimated Location Count Distributor
9/13/2019 The Goldfinch $6,000,000 – $11,000,000 $8,000,000 -11% $25,000,000 -14% 2,500 Warner Bros.
9/13/2019 Hustlers $23,000,000 – $33,000,000 $28,500,000 6% $77,000,000 6% 3,100 STX
9/20/2019 Ad Astra $16,000,000 – $21,000,000 $18,000,000 -10% $58,500,000 -10% 3,500 Fox
9/20/2019 Downton Abbey $16,000,000 – $21,000,000 $18,000,000 20% n/a   3,000 Universal
9/20/2019 Rambo: Last Blood $20,000,000 – $25,000,000 $22,000,000 16% $53,000,000 16% 3,300 Lionsgate
9/27/2019 Abominable $20,000,000 – $25,000,000 $22,500,000   $80,000,000 7%   Universal
10/4/2019 Joker $85,000,000 – $105,000,000 $103,000,000 27% $210,000,000 17%   Warner Bros.
10/11/2019 The Addams Family (2019) $16,000,000 – $21,000,000 $18,000,000   $70,000,000     United Artists Releasing
10/11/2019 The Current War (Expansion) n/a n/a   n/a     101 Studios
10/11/2019 Gemini Man $25,000,000 – $30,000,000 $28,000,000   $90,000,000     Paramount
10/11/2019 Jexi $7,000,000 – $12,000,000 $9,000,000   $29,000,000     Lionsgate / CBS Films / Entertainment One
10/18/2019 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil $30,000,000 – $50,000,000 $37,000,000   $110,000,000     Disney
10/18/2019 Zombieland 2: Double Tap $24,000,000 – $34,000,000 $30,000,000   $77,000,000     Sony / Columbia
10/25/2019 Black and Blue $10,000,000 – $15,000,000 $12,000,000   $35,000,000     Sony / Screen Gems
10/25/2019 Countdown n/a n/a   n/a     STX
10/25/2019 The Last Full Measure n/a n/a   n/a     Roadside Attractions
11/1/2019 Motherless Brooklyn $7,000,000 – $12,000,000 n/a   n/a     Warner Bros.
11/1/2019 Terminator: Dark Fate $35,000,000 – $45,000,000 $38,000,000 NEW $85,000,000 NEW   Paramount

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Alex Edghill & Jesse Rifkin contributed to this report