One of Hollywood’s worst summer movie seasons in recent history only got worse over Memorial Day weekend. The weekend’s big release, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, earned below expectations, and only narrowly outgrossed the week’s other new film, The Garfield Movie

Furiosa earning an estimated $26.3 million makes it the worst #1 movie over a Memorial Day weekend (excluding 2020, when the holiday fell during the worst of the Covid pandemic and most movie theaters were closed) since 1995 — 29 years ago. That’s when Casper debuted to $22.5 million over the weekend. No disrespect to the live-action Casper movie, but that is not the sort of company you want to be in when discussing an epic action film with a reported budget of well over $150 million.

The total revenue for the U.S. box office over the four-day holiday weekend was roughly $128 million — which is also the lowest such total since the summer of 1995. According to Comscore (via THR) that number is also down 37 percent from the Memorial Day weekend box office year.


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Furiosa was expected to gross roughly $40 million over the weekend, and barely passed $30 million. And it was almost beaten completely by Garfield, the first CGI animated feature starring the famous cartoon cat, which had a lot less hype (and surely a much smaller budget). This is a particularly disappointing result given that Furiosa was the prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, about as beloved an action movie as has been made this century. (Fury Road’s opening weekend total in 2015: $45.4 million.)

At least based on this weekend’s numbers, it does seem like people were less excited by the prospect of a first Furiosa movie than in a new Mad Max sequel, even though they hailed from the same director, George Miller. It could also be that the appeal of Furiosa, a beloved character in Fury Road, had less to do with the fictional person and more to do with the fact that she was played by Charlize Theron, who was sensational in the role — and did not return for this prequel. (The title character is played in the new film by Anya Taylor-Joy.)

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

As for the general reasons why this year’s movies seem to be struggling at the box office, I already discussed a lot of them in my article from last month about The Fall Guy — an incredibly entertaining popcorn film — bombing. The other huge thing to note, though, are last year’s strikes. Although they were resolved last fall, the work stoppages in Hollywood last summer wound up delaying some of the bigger titles that were planned for early 2024 to later in the year. Some titles intended for this summer won’t arrive until next summer now.

As a result, we’re already in late May of 2024 and we haven’t had a single new Marvel or DC movie in theaters, for example. (Some studios have taken to re-releasing older titles as a result; Sony has been putting all of their Spider-Man movies from Tobey Maguire through Tom Holland back into multiplexes over the last few weeks.) The bigger sequels we have gotten so far in 2024 — Dune: Part TwoGodzilla x KongKung Fu Panda 4 — have all performed fairly well. But there have been way less of those types of movies than there would be in a normal year. And here we are.

Here is the full Memorial Day weekend box office chart:

  1. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga - $32 million
  2. The Garfield Movie - $31.1 million
  3. IF - $21 million
  4. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes - $17.2 million
  5. The Fall Guy - $7.6 million
  6. The Strangers: Chapter 1 - $6.9 million
  7. Sight - $3.5 million
  8. Challengers - $1.7 million
  9. Back to Black - $1.3 million
  10. Babes - $1.2 million
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