Will Smith's sci-fi action-thriller Gemini Man disappointed at the box office, coming in well behind Joker in its opening weekend. The Gemini Man project has been around in some form since 1997 and went through several rewrites before Smith signed on star in 2017, with Ang Lee directing. Part of the reason for that is the premise, which pits an aging hitman against his much-younger clone. The plan was always to use CGI to "de-age" the movie's star and have them play both characters, but that wasn't possible to do even remotely well until about ten years ago.
Adding to the complicated nature of the whole endeavor, Lee decided to shoot Gemini Man at an ultra-high frame rate (120 fps) and for 3D, much like he did with his last movie, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Unfortunately, the results didn't go over so well with critics, most of whom praised the film's qualities as a showcase for new technology, but derided its undeveloped story and themes. The negative reception may've contributed to Gemini Man's opening weekend gross, which was significantly lower than expected.
According to the weekend estimates (via Variety), Gemini Man opened with $20.5 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend. That was well behind the repeating champion Joker (which took in another $55 million stateside over the weekend) and lower than the $25-30 million projections for Gemini Man, ahead of its premiere. The film ultimately landed in third place at the U.S. box office behind Joker and its fellow new wide release, The Addams Family (which made a higher-than-expected $30.3 million).
Middling-to-poor word of mouth wasn't the only factor that probably contributed to Gemini Man's disappointing box office debut. It wasn't actually possible to watch the film's hyperreal visuals as Lee had intended in the U.S. (in 4K 3D at a high frame rate), so there was all the less incentive for audiences to check it out on the big screen. There's also the matter of Smith's drawing power, which has clearly diminished in recent years. Over the last decade, in fact, the actor's biggest movies have either been part of an established brand (Men in Black 3, Aladdin) or belonged to a popular franchise like the DCEU (Suicide Squad). As evidenced by Gemini Man, his name alone simply isn't enough to turn a film into a smash hit anymore.
Combine that with Joker's popularity among adult moviegoers and The Addams Family cornering the family market, and it's no surprise Gemini Man struggled financially this weekend. It's pretty unlikely the film will turn things around from here, either. Competition is only going to get more intense over the next few weeks, beginning with Zombieland: Double Tap and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opening on Thursday evening. The movie's $138 million price tag means Gemini Man will probably struggle just to break even at the end of the day, depending on its global performance. It only grossed $30 million from several international territories this weekend, but may yet be saved by a strong turnout in China and Japan over the next couple weeks.