It feels like Will Smith and Ang Lee’s Gemini Man has already been forgotten just two weeks into its release. If it’s going to break even, or make a couple of pennies to rub together, it will need a lot of help from China and the rest of the international box office.
Gemini Man opened in third place in North America last week with only $20.5 million, which was even less than the modest initial estimates. This weekend it had to settle for #5 at the domestic box office with $8.5 million, a drop of 58.5%. It’s still playing on 3,642 screens but it only has a $2,334 per-screen average.
(Compare that to $9,499 for this weekend’s #1, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, or even the $37,616 per screen average for Parasite, which is only playing on 33 domestic screens.)
Gemini Man just opened in China this weekend. According to Forbes, Gemini Man made $8 million in China on Friday, the opening day there. Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk earned $30 million there three years ago, which may be a hopeful sign.
Gemini Man cost roughly $138 million to make, before marketing costs. THR had a story back in 2014 about soaring marketing costs, with some studios spending another $100 million to advertise blockbusters around the world. Without knowing the exact marketing money, it’s hard to gauge how much Gemini Man will need to make to break even, but at least $200 million worldwide? More? Will it reach whatever threshold it needs with help from international fans?
You can already see that Gemini Man is getting a lot more help from foreign markets than here in the U.S. and Canada. Will Smith usually does big business overseas, and Gemini Man has two of him. Smith just had his best box office win of all time in Aladdin, which topped $1 billion with $695 million of that coming from foreign markets. Suicide Squad had an almost even split — $325M domestic and $421M foreign.
Lately, Will Smith has been making smaller movies like Collateral Beauty and Concussion, to mixed critical and commercial success. Will Smith in an action thriller sounded like a major hit, but it’s not being shown how director Ang Lee intended, and it got lousy reviews from critics — even though the initial reactions sounded more positive.
Fans have mostly ignored Gemini Man to this point, but the people who have seen it gave it an 84% Rotten Tomatoes audience score and a B+ grade on CinemaScore. But if more people were actually watching the movie, it wouldn’t be in these dire financial straits.
Part of the point of Gemini Man, according to Will Smith, was Ang Lee trying to give fans an experience that was ideally suited to theaters rather than home viewing. Sounds like that has not worked so far.
Have you seen Gemini Man yet? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, any desire to see it in the theater or will you wait for it to start streaming on Netflix or wherever?