Continuing this month’s trend of sequels struggling to stay afloat, Men in Black: International came in below target much like recent releases Dark Phoenix, Godzilla: King of Monsters, and The Secret Life of Pets 2. Sony’s newest installment in its long-running Men in Black franchise starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson brought in only $28.5 million domestically for the weekend, making it the smallest debut of the series. However, international revenue makes up for much of its losses stateside, as the global intake adds up to $102.2 million.
The other big release of the weekend, Shaft, also failed to live up to expectations at the box office, bringing in only a $7.3 million opening. It looks like the film will struggle to match up to the previous Shaft film from 2000, also starring Samuel L. Jackson, which opened at $21.7 million.
Critics have slammed both films, likely contributing to the weekend slump. Shaft has a critics score on Rotten Tomatoes of only 35%, though the audience rating is a surprising 93%. Men in Black is looking at similar numbers, with a low critics score of 24% and a reasonable user score of 67%.
All of these failing releases may be a sign that Hollywood can no longer rely on sequels to be surefire hits. Without some major selling point to lure in the audience, a franchise name with big stars cannot always be all you need to sell a story. Many of these recent films share that commonality of lacking quality content, likely due to rushing deadlines and too much trust in the sequel system.