If Arnold Schwarzenegger expected to resume his perch as one of Hollywood’s top box office draws when he left the California governor’s office in 2011, well, he might want to give politics another try. His latest movie, Sabotage, was a huge bomb at the box office this weekend — his third straight turkey since rebooting his career as a big-screen action hero.
Sabotage, in which Schwarzenegger stars as DEA agent involved in the theft of $10 million from a drug warehouse, cost a reported $35 million to produce, but brought back a mere $5.2 million in its crucial opening weekend, leaving it as a distant seventh-place finisher. That figure is particularly painful for Schwarzenegger considering that the violent thriller played on 2,486 screens — but still made less money than the quirky Wes Anderson comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel which took in $8.5 million from just 977 screens.
The religious indie God’s Not Dead took in $8.7 million in its second week, from 1,178 screens. The Bible-based epic Noah paced the weekend with $43.7 million on 3,567 screens.
Promotional Blitz Couldn’t Save Sabotage From Box Office Debacle
Though the 66-year-old Arnold Schwarnzegger pulled out all the stops promoting Sabotage, even appearing shortly before the film opened on a WWE pro wrestling broadcast — whose audience fits the same demographic targeted by bullet-riddled Schwarzenegger action flick — the U.S. taste for the Schwarzenegger brand has simplly failed to reawaken.
But in the end, Sabotage did even worse than either of the previous two Arnold comeback movies, The Last Stand which brought in $6.2 million for its debut and Escape Plan, which also featured another 1980s action star Sylvester Stallone but earned just $9.2 million in its three-day bow.
In his prime, there were few stars in Hollywood who could carry a movie to box-office heights like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Starting with his breakout role in the 1982 sword-and-sandal adventure Conan The Barbarian, the Austria-born former bodybuilding champion had top billing in 23 films that grossed a cumulative $1.5 billion.
“Arnold has been a box office bust in the U.S. ever since he came back from his political tour of duty, and even before that his star was steadily falling,” Exhibitor Relations vice-president Jeff Bock told the industry news site The Wrap.
Schwarzenegger Remains A Box Office Force Overseas
But the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t about to terminate just yet. Schwarzenegger is still capable of parting overseas moviegoers from their cash. Escape Plan earned $112 million in foreign markets, while The Last Stand took in $36.3 million in other countries, three times its anemic $12 million domestic showing.
Schwarznegger is also an important piece of several lucrative franchises, primarily the seemingly never-ending Terminator saga. Beginning in 1984 with the James Cameron-directed original, The Terminator, the four-film series will add a fifth in 2015 with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to his signature role as an unstoppable robot programmed to kill.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is also slated to appear in an upcoming sequel to Conan, and to his 1988 comedy hit Twins, to be titled Triplets. Despite his recent box office setbacks, Arnold appears to be living by the motto made famous by his Terminator character in the 1984 film, “I’ll be back.”