Movies & TV / Columns

Are Dark Phoenix and Men in Black: International Proof That Franchise Fatigue is Real?

June 17, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Dark Phoenix

If you hang around long enough and read enough reports on box office results, you’ll find the word “fatigue” is used to excuse any bad performance.

This weekend was the perfect storm of bad results as Men in Black International and Shaft didn’t bring out the audiences to the theaters, not even meeting very conservative targets.

Not to mention X-Men: Dark Phoenix took a mighty dive in its second week, dropping a jaw-dropping 83% on Friday.

But how much is fatigue a factor when you look at the actual quality of movies out there?

That’s not to say fatigue isn’t real. Audiences can tire of something at the drop of hat and move on to the next thing with ease. While superhero movies have been a mainly profitable venture, in time that will pass. It always has.

Looking at this past weekend, Men in Black: International was expected to pull in modest $30 million or so but finished with $28.5 million. Not good when you remember the first three MIB all opened with over $50 million. The MIB is a popular brand, with many expecting nostalgia and curiosity to sell some tickets.

While Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are no Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the pairing was seen as likable enough to bring in a more solid opening stateside. At this point, eyes will be on the overseas market to buoy the movie. As far as another chapter with these two, don’t get your hopes up. MIB currently sits at 24% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a B CinemaScore.

While not in the same category, we got another Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson this weekend. The movie flopped hard with $8.3 million, which is less than half of what box office analysts predicted the follow-up would bring in. The budget for the movie was $35 million. For those that forgot, 2000’s Shaft opened with $21.7 million.

So what’s the deal? Were these two destined to fail at the box office because of fatigue or was it a case of the studios missing the mark on what audiences want to see? For me, MIB International didn’t excite me. I like the two leads but it looked more of the same and I could just as easily stay home and watch one of the first 3 in the comfort of my couch. Nothing in the trailer looked like they pushed the concept in fun or different places and I’m content to catch it when it streams somewhere.

I’ve always been a fan of Shaft and really enjoyed 2000s update to the character. Honestly, I didn’t see one trailer for the movie and it wasn’t until I was scanning box office expectations that I saw it was coming out this weekend. I caught up with the trailer and, again, nothing grabbed me.

Franchise fatigue? Only if you count the lack of new ideas as fatigue in regards to the studio. Look at the buzz with Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home as prime examples of franchises that still have life to them. No comment on Star Wars: Episode IX.