After raking in a meager $4.8 million during its box office debut, Ridley Scott’s epic The Last Duel enters The Flop Zone. The film has earned the title of Scott’s worst-performing premiere ever, as per The Hollywood Reporter. Whether the blame is on poor marketing, an older target audience, or having to compete with Halloween Kills... that’s all up for debate. But The Last Duel is a significant low for the prolific director behind successes such as Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator.
The 14th century French-set film boasted heavy hitters Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, and Jodie Comer, and so far has received glimmering reviews from critics. However, it simply has not performed when it comes to theater ticket sales, earning a fraction of its $100 million budget.
Prior to The Last Duel, Scott’s biggest flop was the Christopher Columbus colonization tale, 1492: Conquest Of Paradise (1992), which earned a mere $7 million.
Really, most of the films that flourished this year have been Marvel features, such as Black Widow, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Seven Rings. Horror flicks like the recent Halloween Kills, A Quiet Place Part II, and Candyman, have also been successful. Even M. Night Shamaylan’s Old, about the beach that makes you old, earned $16 million on opening weekend.
No Time To Die pulled in a higher age range for its solid debut weekend, but this is typical for the older-leaning Bond fan demographic. Ticket sales still tanked going into its second weekend, and the film remains far from breaking even with its high budget ceiling.
While superheroes and scares can manage to get people out of their homes and into the theater this year, the current trend does not bode well for slow-burn dramas like The Last Duel.
The next test will be Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, which opens in U.S. theaters this weekend. Lots of films have been buoyed by dual streaming/theater release, and Dune follows suit with an HBO Max premiere the night before it arrives in theaters. Nonetheless, the industry is hoping this month’s release will kick off an avalanche of consistent theater attendance.
“Someone had to go first. We stood tall and the movie is doing well. Once people start coming back, they will keep coming back,” Erik Lomis tells The Hollywood Reporter. Lomis currently serves as the distribution president at United Artists Releasing, which handles No Time to Die in the states.
However, as one studio executive says, “The business can’t rely on Marvel characters alone.”
Scott has another chance to hit it out of the park this year will another Driver-led feature, The House Of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga.