Christian Toto, over at his Hollywood in Toto site, was the first to declare Schwarzenegger “box office poison,” and he lays out the reasons why (RINO, Global Warming, etc). Since I can’t improve on that, I wanted to focus on the math and show my work.
Between 1982, straight through to 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the king of the box office, the $20 million man, an unstoppable force and star who could open a movie on his name only. Granted, his star had waned a bit near the end, but his final round of films before becoming one of California’s worst governors, were hit and miss.
Not counting for 15 years of inflation, Terminator 3 (2003) grossed $150 million domestic ($283M overseas).
End of Days (1999) earned a respectable $66 million domestic ($145M overseas), while The 6th Day (2000) and Collateral Damage (2002) sputtered out at $35 and $42 million, respectively.
Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger was still a big and bankable enough star that studios were willing to gamble huge budgets based only on his presence.
If Schwarzenegger thought he could ride out of the governorship and back into box office glory, that idea was quickly put down by four screaming flops in a row.
Last Stand (2013) died a twitching death with just $12 million domestic ($36M overseas).
Teaming up with fellow 80’s superstar Sylvester Stallone (who is still bankable in hits like Creed) for Escape Plan (2013) failed to lift that prison break thriller above $25 million ($112M overseas).
Something called Sabotage (2014) grossed just $10 million ($7M overseas), and Schwarzenegger’s leap into the popular zombie genre with Maggie (2015) was a full-blown catastrophe grossing just $187,000 ($1.5M overseas). Public indifference ensured it never saw a release in more than 17 theaters.
Nevertheless, Arnold probably looks back at the years 2013 through 2015 as the good old days. After all, with $89 million domestic and $351 million overseas, at least his attempt to reboot his most famous franchise with Terminator: Genisys (2015) wasn’t a complete catastrophe. Oh, it lost money and under-performed bigly, so much so a planned trilogy was scrapped, but there was at least a spark of interest there.
Now let’s look at Arnold’s box office performance since President Trump’s 2016 election and Schwarzenegger’s embarrassing decision to become a girly-man Never Trumper.
A movie called Aftermath (2017) went straight to video.
A movie called Killing Gunther (2017) went straight to video.
Just stop and think about that… An Arnold Schwarzenegger movie went straight to video.
And then, all on his own, also in 2017, Schwarzenegger murdered NBC’s 14-year-old blockbuster Celebrity Apprentice franchise. This was a humiliation that deserved more attention at the time.
Schwarzenegger took over hosting duties from Trump, who turned the show into a mega-hit over 14 seasons. What’s more, during Trump’s 14th and final season, he attracted a viewership that ranged from 7.6 to 6.1 million viewers, which was an increase over the previous season. And then Schwarzenegger stumbled in, drove the ratings into the dirt with 4.8 to 3.5 measly viewers, and cancellation.
But Arnie always has Terminator, right? He can always go back to his classic franchise, right?
Even with the return of co-star Linda Hamilton and producer/creator James Cameron, Terminator: Dark Fate opened two weeks ago and crashed upon take-off with a catastrophic $29 million opening. Over the last 11 days, Dark Fate still hasn’t crossed $50 million domestic and $200 million worldwide.
Arnold’s final grip on box office glory, his Terminator franchise and this $250 million (production plus promotion) boondoggle, is not only a box office humiliation, it killed a 35-year-old franchise.
Schwarzenegger still has a sequel to Twins in the works, a sequel to Conan, but let’s see how far those go now with the failure of Dark Fate.
I mean, if Arnold can’t even open a Terminator movie…