Christian Bale, who had a sensational success with The Dark Knight last summer, has proved he isn't a box office giant. He has also proved -- with his newest film Terminator: Salvation -- that he is no Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The last film in the series, Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines (2003), made about the same money as the new film. It is believed to be the last film with Schwarzenegger in the lead. The new Terminator took in about $43 million over the weekend in North America.
Bale plays the resistance leader John Connor fighting power-hungry machines in the sci-fi film. Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust and a group of survivors led by Connor rally to drive away the conquerors.
Critic Roger Ebert complained that the new Terminator was too mechanical and lacked the human soul. 'Most of the running time is occupied by action sequences, chase sequences, motorcycle sequences, plow-truck sequences, helicopter sequences, fighter-plane sequences, towering android sequences and fistfights,' he wrote in the Chicago Sun Times, adding. 'It gives you all the pleasure of a video game without the bother of having to play it.'
The trade publication Variety had kinder words for the film directed by McG, who directed the Charlie's Angels films over a decade ago. But it declared Christian Bale was a bit luckless. 'Playing the 'prophesized leader of the Resistance' John Connor may have traded in the Batman body armor for 'Road Warrior'-style outerwear, but one thing hasn't changed: He is, once again, a movie star playing second fiddle. Heath Ledger stole The Dark Knight from him and Sam Worthington heists Terminator Salvation from Bale, for the most ironical of reasons: In a movie that poses man against machine, Worthington's cyborg is the far more human character.'
Bale was also beaten at the American box office by Ben Stiller with his Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which made $53.5 million in three days, according to distributor 20th Century Fox.
But Warner, which released Terminator has some bragging right -- it opened the film in North America on Thursday, collecting a strong $14 million, a day before the sequel to Night at the Museum opened. The new Terminator, which cost about $180 million, could end its theatrical run worldwide with $400 million. Night, which cost about $150 million, is expected to earn over $500 million worldwide.
Night has Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ricky Gervais facing more night-time museum adventures, this time in Washington. In the first film, the adventures took place at the Natural History Museum in New York. The reviews were tepid for the sequel too but Variety predicted it would have a solid run.
'The sequel reunites Ben Stiller's ex-security guard with former cast members and adds dozens more,' it wrote. 'But where the original had a vaguely tenable narrative hook (deadbeat dad finds redemption through nocturnal heroics), the new pic seems purely a vehicle for lavish visuals and cheap gags. Still, the 2006 comedy-adventure soared past tepid reviews to a $574 million global BO; chances are this Night also will be a mammoth success.'
Both films could not dislodge -- in territories outside North America -- Tom Hanks starrer Angels & Demons from the top spot. It made $ 60.4 million in its first weekend, according to Variety.