New "Terminator" opens well without Schwarzenegger

Fri May 22, 2009 5:54pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Judging from its first full day in North American movie theaters, the latest chapter in the "Terminator" film franchise will do just fine without cyborg-in-chief Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Terminator Salvation," the fourth in the big-screen sci-fi series about humans battling powerful, blood-thirsty robots from the future, grossed a hefty $13.4 million from its debut on Thursday in some 3,480 U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to studio estimates on Friday.

Marking the first "Terminator" film in nearly six years, and the only one lacking Schwarzenegger, now starring in real life as California's governor, the movie is distributed by Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. studio. It cost a reported $200 million to make.

The robust opening puts the film, starring Christian Bale as leader of the human resistance against a post-Apocalyptic takeover by cyborgs, on track to gross roughly $70 million through Monday's Memorial Day holiday, as forecast by box office analysts.

Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said the first-day figure exceeded his expectations -- "I would have been happy to do $9 or $10 million" -- and proves that "Terminator's" fan base remains very much intact.

Fifty more domestic theaters are being added for the weekend.

By comparison, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," another fourth installment of a blockbuster franchise, opened the same day last year and grossed nearly twice as much, $25 million, on its first Thursday.

"Crystal Skull" went on to ring up $152 million in domestic ticket sales during its first five days and $317 million through its entire domestic run. But it launched in about 730 more theaters than "Terminator."   Continued...

<p>Actor Christian Bale is shown in a scene from "Terminator Salvation" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters May 20, 2009. True to his catchphrase "I'll be back," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did make a brief cameo, even though he never set foot on the movie's set. Through computer-generated special effects, his fearsome visage was taken from a previous movie and superimposed on a deadly Terminator robot. REUTERS/Richard Foreman/Warner Bros Pictures/Handout</p>