In many ways, movies can bomb. Their theatre revenue may come under budget; they may be shredded by film critics; they may be engulfed in a controversy that kills their chances long before the weekend begins.
But a special type of tanking doesn’t get as much pressure as it does: the count drop of the theatre. Terminator: Dark Fate is widely viewed as a major disappointment owing to its $185 million budget and a meagre $29 million gross domestic weekend debut. And while the film with its worldwide total will clear its budget, its American run is in shambles— which has contributed to a staggering 1,609-theater fall between Weeks 2 so 3.
It is quite uncommon for a movie to perform so badly that before the end of the first month, studios leave the ship. Before opening the weekend, the first two weeks of a film run are always set in stone— but if a theatre run isn’t worth the cost? Studios are going to pull the movie by Week 3 and 4 entirely.
Some films have had it worse than Terminator in the past: Dark Fate. Back in 2018, The Darkest Minds had the largest drop in history as it went from 3,127 Week 2 theatres to only 448 Week 3 theatres— a loss of 2,679 venues. And A Cure for Wellness had the largest percentage fall in Week 3, missing 2,616 theatres— a decrease of 97.8 million.
But no movie but Terminator: Dark Fate has been premiering in more than 4,000 theatres, only to suffer a loss of at least 1,600. With a $185 million budget and the fifth largest release ever for an R-rated movie, Paramount Pictures was watching a lucrative outing… just to experience a subpar one.
Only 134 films have had larger theatre drops in cinema history than Dark Fate, and 16 of those films were released in 2019.