Here’s about the most positive thing you can say about Morgan after its disastrous opening weekend: At least director Luke Scott won’t have to look far to find someone who can assure him that artificial- intelligence thrillers can go from critical and commercial flop to beloved classic.
That said, Scott’s film sure doesn’t look destined to be one day thought of in the same exalted company as his father Ridley’s Blade Runner. Nor is it going to be this year’s answer to Ex Machina, as Morgan’s $1.96 million opening weekend in American theaters makes even the 2015 movie’s modest $36.9 million at the box office look hopelessly out of reach.
In slight fairness, Labor Day weekend is a notoriously slow one at the movies, and Morgan didn’t get a full nationwide release, playing on only 2,020 screens. But it still averaged just $970 per theater, compared with more than $5,146 for defending box office champ Don’t Breathe, $3,039 for Suicide Squad in its fifth week, and even $2,038 for Star Trek Beyond, which is in its seventh week in theaters.
While the subject matter of rebellious artificial intelligence invited the Ex Machina comparison, critics and audiences agreed Morgan just wasn’t as good: It’s sitting at 43 percent with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which is actually better than the mere 38 percent of audience members who said they liked it. Drilling down a bit, the consensus per Rotten Tomatoes appears to be that the movie isn’t terrible, but it’s deeply meh, taking a good premise and doing a whole bunch of generic things with it.
So unless Luke Scott is prepared to follow his dad’s example with Blade Runner and keep re-editing the film until something brilliant emerges, that’s probably the end of the line for Morgan. Not so for Don’t Breathe, which took in a solid $15.7 million in its second week — its combined $51 million gross is five times its budget, which means there’s probably going to be six or seven sequels and spin-offs made before all is said and done, as is custom with cheap horror. Suicide Squad held steady with $10.5 million, good for second place, while the fantasy remake Pete’s Dragon has just about made back its $65 million budget domestically with a third-place showing of $6.47 million. Box Office Mojo has the weekend’s full figures.