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US box office: Jason Statham’s ‘Wrath of Man’ debuts at No. 1 with US$8m

British actor Jason Statham. — AFP pic

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LOS ANGELES, May 10 — Wrath of Man, a heist thriller starring Jason Statham, is leading box office charts with its US$8.1 million (RM33.3 million) debut.

It’s hardly the start to summer movie season, which typically kicks off the first weekend in May, that many theatre owners were hoping would ignite with Marvel’s Black Widow. (Disney recently moved the release of its superhero tentpole starring Scarlet Johansson from May 7 to July 9).

At the very least, it’s something to keep film exhibitors afloat until moviegoing picks up with Disney’s Cruella and Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II at the end of the month, followed by F9, the musical In the Heights and The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife in June.

In North America, the box office has returned in fits and starts as Covid-19 vaccination rates rise and major movie markets, such as New York City and Los Angeles, loosen capacity restrictions in theatres.

That should help cinemas sell more tickets and, in turn, give Hollywood the confidence to roll out big movies. In the meantime, receipts for Mortal Kombat, Godzilla vs Kong and Demon Slayer: Mugen Train have been encouraging.

Though its momentum has slowed, Godzilla vs Kong crossed US$92 million in the US this weekend and has a shot of becoming the first pandemic-era movie to surpass US$100 million at the domestic box office.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, Wrath of Man represents a pandemic anomaly because it’s having a traditional theatrical release.

Unlike Godzilla vs Kong or Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, the MGM film isn’t available simultaneously on a streaming service or digital rental platform.

If audiences want to see a vengeful Statham kick ass and take names, the only place to do so is their local theatre.

Ticket buyers appear to be pleased with their purchase; the film has an “A-” CinemaScore from moviegoers.

Critics were less impressed (it holds a 66 per cent average on Rotten Tomatoes), but several reviewers pointed out that plot aside, the action was fun to watch unfold on the big screen.

Overseas, where Miramax is handling distribution, Wrath of Man has taken in US$17.6 million to date. The movie opens wide in China today.

Wrath of Man wasn’t the only new nationwide release. Sony Pictures opened Here Today, a comedy with Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal, in 1,200 North American venues.

It pulled in US$900,000 over the weekend, landing in seventh place on box office charts. Even by pandemic standards, that’s a dismal start for a major studio release featuring two household names in Haddish and Crystal.

The film, directed by Crystal, follows the unlikely friendship between an aging comedy writer and an up-and-coming singer and received mixed reviews.

There were several holdover titles that earned considerably more money than Here Today.

In its 10th weekend of release, ticket sales for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon”increased 25 per cent from the weekend prior.

The animated kids movie, which is currently available to rent on Disney Plus for a premium fee, landed in fifth place and added another US$1.8 million from 2,315 venues. That brings its domestic tally to US$43.8 million.

After three weeks on the big screen, the anime hit Demon Slayer slid to second place and pulled in US$3 million. It has made US$39 million in the US and more than US$435 million globally.

Falling not far behind, the Warner Bros. video game adaptation Mortal Kombat landed in the No. 3 spot with US$2.3 million.

The movie, which is playing on HBO Max for no extra cost to subscribers, has generated US$37.8 million in North America and US$72 million worldwide.

Godzilla vs Kong, also from Warner Bros., came in fourth place with US$1.9 million.

With US$422 million at the global box office, the monster mashup has surpassed revenues for its predecessor, the poorly reviewed, mega-budgeted Godzilla: King of the Monsters. That film, which was released in 2019, tapped out with US$386 million.

Among indie releases, Oscilloscope’s Silo premiered to US$51,689 from 208 screens, translating to US$249 per location.

The movie also opened this weekend on video on demand platforms. Billed as the first movie about “grain entrapment,” Silo is set in a small American farm town.

Disaster strikes when a teenage boy fights for his life as he falls risk to getting buried alive by the grain the town harvests. — Variety.com via Reuters

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