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Liam Neeson's The Marksman ends Wonder Woman 1984 US box office reign

This is Neeson's second movie to top the box office during the pandemic after Honest Thief.

Liam Neeson's The Marksman ends Wonder Woman 1984 US box office reign

FILE PHOTO: Actor Liam Neeson arrives for the world premiere of Widows at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Canada, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

If time is a flat circle, then it's only fitting that a second Liam Neeson movie is ruling over the US box office during the pandemic. Months after his action thriller Honest Thief led the charts, another Neeson (you guessed it!) action thriller The Marksman has debut at No 1 with US$3.2 million (S$4.26 million) in ticket sales.

Robert Lorenz directed The Marksman, about a rancher and retired Marine living in Arizona who helps a young boy escape a Mexican drug cartel. The film, which premiered in 1,975 locations, should rake in US$3.7 million through the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday (Jan 18). Open Road, the distributor behind The Marksman, also backed Honest Thief. That film bowed to US$3.7 million last October and ended its theatrical run with US$14 million in the US and US$28 million globally.

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Gal Gadot in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984." (Warner Bros. via AP)

The Marksman joins the company of Honest Thief and Robert De Niro's The War With Grandpa as some of the lowest-grossing box office toppers in modern history, highlighting the bleak reality that movie theatres are facing amid the country's latest COVID-19 surge. Overall, around 65 per cent of US theatres are closed due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman 1984 slid to second place after besting the (albeit muted) competition for three straights weekends. Warner Bros. did not provide a three-day total, but the studio projects the Gal Gadot-led superhero sequel will generate US$2.6 million through the extended holiday weekend. However, Wonder Woman 1984 could drop to third place behind The Croods: A New Age when Martin Luther King day sales are finalised on Monday.

Wonder Woman 1984, a DC Comics adaptation that cost US$200 million to produce, released simultaneously on the fledgling streaming service HBO Max. It will be taken off the platform next Sunday, and the film will only be available to watch in theatres until it reaches its traditional home entertainment window. It's expected to return to the streaming platform a few months later. Internationally, where HBO Max has yet to launch, the fantastical follow-up brought in US$5.2 million, boosting foreign revenues to US$105.9 million for a worldwide total of US$141.7 million.

For now, Universal and DreamWorks' sequel to The Croods placed third, amassing US$2.04 million this weekend and looking to cross the long weekend with US$2.9 million. The animated family film actually improved upon last week's grosses by 13 per cent, which is impressive considering it's currently available to watch on home entertainment. Last year, Universal forged an agreement with major theatre chains such as AMC and Cinemark to allow the studio to put new releases on demand after 17 days in theatres. In return, select exhibitors are getting an undisclosed cut of digital profits. After two months in theatres, The Croods: A New Age has made US$40 million at the US box office. Overseas, the movie added another US$2.2 million from 17 countries for an international total of US$94.7 million and a global tally of US$134.8 million.

Another Universal title, News Of The World with Tom Hanks, landed in fourth place with a three-day total of US$1.05 million and an expected four-day tally of US$1.27 million. The Western drama, which is also available to watch on-demand, has collected US$8.72 million on the big screen. Rounding out the top five is Sony's thriller Monster Hunter. The video game adaptation with Milla Jovovich generated US$920,000 over the weekend and should reach US$1.09 million through MLK day. By Monday, it will have made US$9.2 million to date.

Though Promising Young Woman fell to seventh place on box office charts, the film all but dominated social media chatter as the acclaimed revenge thriller hit premium-on-demand platforms this weekend. (Focus Features, the company distributing the movie, falls under its parent company Universal's early VOD agreement.) It played in more than 1,000 theatres and collected US$430,000 over the weekend, most of which came from drive-in locations. Directed by Emerald Fennell and starring Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman has grossed US$3.4 million in theatres so far. However, the studio has not reported how many watched online.

At the specialty box office, IFC Films opened MLK/ FBI – a documentary directed by Sam Pollard – on demand and in over 120 theatres nationwide. The film generated US$27,500 over the three-day weekend and expects to make US$33,250 through Monday. Though IFC didn't provide tangible rental stats, the company said the documentary ranked within the top 10 on Apple Movies' independent charts and on the top 5 for documentaries.

"We are so thrilled that the best reviewed and most important documentary of the year is connecting so strongly with audiences on all platforms," said IFC Films president Arianna Bocco.

Overseas, Disney and Pixar's Soul continued to chug along at the international box office, particularly in China where it now stands as the third highest-grossing Pixar movie of all time with US$43.1 million. The critically loved animated family film isn't playing in US theatres. Instead, it premiered on the company's streaming service Disney Plus on Christmas Day. In total, Soul has made US$57.4 million from 11 countries.

(Source: Reuters)

Source: Reuters/sr