• 'The Fall Guy' has failed at the box office
  • It is a worrying signal for Hollywood
  • HERE are the stats

With a budget soaring over $200 million, the film's underperformance has left industry insiders questioning the viability of original storytelling in a sequel-dominated market. 'The Fall Guy' opened to just under $28 million domestically, starting the summer with a whimper, despite critical embrace at SXSW.

The April-May weekend cusp has historically been the launch window for summer’s biggest blockbusters

A big flop

It had it all. Action, comedy, romance. Record-breaking stunts. Two of the hottest stars around. Great reviews too!

Yet fail – or at least stumble – the 'The Fall Guy' did. Revised estimates now put its likely final gross at $80m domestically and $150m overseas: a borderline break-even, once you factor in the $130m budget plus a lavish marketing spend.

It’s a bleak picture compared with last summer, when Gosling and Blunt were helping steer the Barbenheimer juggernaut to cinema-saving glory. 'Barbie' is now on $1.5bn, 'Oppenheimer' $954m.

This heat has been much leveraged promoting 'The Fall Guy'. At the Oscars, the pair did a double act as presenters, nodding to Barbenheimer and plugging their new film’s big (if slightly niche) message: stunt performers should be celebrated just as much as stars.

They followed this up with a duet on 'Saturday Night Live' three weeks ago, further bantering about the legacy of 'Barbenheimer' and how hard Gosling’s "Ken" persona was to shake off.

A large part of the reason why 'The Fall Guy' didn't quite meet expectations is the fact that people are even more selective about the movies they see in the theater. This year, 'Dune: Part Two' and 'Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire' both delivered bombastic thrills of a different sort, including battles on the sands of "Arrakkis" and the plains of Hollow Earth.

In contrast, 'The Fall Guy', although it boasts some very impressive stunt work and fun action sequences, isn't exactly screaming "This has to be seen in theaters!"

Cost is also a major issue. A single person going to the movies is far different from two people, or even a family of four or more. Due to the rise of streaming services and the allure of watching a movie from the comfort of one's home this isn't surprising. 

'The Fall Guy' also has some fierce competition at the box office, particularly 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' as well as 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Story.'

Also interesting:

This riff may have proven more accurate than intended. Perhaps Gosling’s current star wattage owes more to the character he played in Greta Gerwig’s movie than his actual appeal? Might he not be a name who can open movies after all?