Can Memory reverse the string of forgettable Liam Neeson pics we’ve seen lately or will it fall in line with his recent underwhelming performers? Slated for April 29th, this casts him as an assassin dealing with cognitive lapses. Martin Campbell (who kicked off the Brosnan and Craig 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) directs. He most recently helmed the lackluster The Protege with Maggie Q and Michael Keaton. Costars include Guy Pearce (who starred in the acclaimed Memento which covered similar themes) and Monica Bellucci.
It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Neeson resurged his career with Taken. This second life as an action star resulted in some hits, but there’s been more misses recently. The Marksman and Blacklight took in $3.7 and $3.5 million, respectively, in the COVID era. I see no reason why Memory wouldn’t suffer a similar fate and the gross may even dip a bit.
The video game adaptation Uncharted with Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg looks to rule the #1 spot over the four-day President’s Day weekend while Channing Tatum’s directorial debut Dog hopes for a solid second place showing. They’re the newbies coming on Friday and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:
While reviews are mixed (50% currently on Rotten Tomatoes) for Uncharted, it should easily take a commanding lead for the POTUS frame. My low to mid 30s take puts it at about two and half times the gross of Dog, which finds Mr. Tatum in his first starring role in nearly half a decade.
As for holdovers, the long weekend should allow for smallish drop-offs. We’ve seen that play out previously during the mid February time period. Death on the Nile, following its mediocre start, might flirt with staying in double digits (I have it just under) with Spider-Man: No Way Home (that other Holland pic), Marry Me, and Jackass Forever filling out the rest of the chart.
Here’s how I envision the top 6 and these are estimates over the Friday to Monday holiday:
Predicted Gross: $33.7 million
Predicted Gross: $13.3 million
3. Death on the Nile
Predicted Gross: $9.8 million
4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Predicted Gross: $7.3 million
5. Marry Me
Predicted Gross: $6 million
6. Jackass Forever
Predicted Gross: $5.7 million
Box Office Results (February 11-13)
As mentioned, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile (his follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express) went a bit off the tracks with $12.8 million. That’s shy of my $14.3 million projection and it’s less than half of what Orient accomplished out of the gate.
Jackass Forever dropped to second with $8 million. The 65% drop was the largest of the five picture franchise and under my prediction of $11.3 million. The prankster sequel stands at $37 million after ten days.
Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson couldn’t get audiences to fall for them as Marry Me debuted in third with $7.9 million. That didn’t match my expectation of $11.2 million. Its simultaneous Peacock streaming start might have caused many couples to simply view from home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was fourth with $7.5 million (I said $7.1 million) for $759 million overall. The MCU smash is just $1 million away from Avatar and becoming the third largest domestic earner of all-time (obviously it will hit that mark this week).
Liam Neeson’s latest revenge thriller Blacklight performed in line with his other COVID genre tales Honest Thief and The Marksman. The fifth place tally was $3.5 million, in range with my $3.8 million estimate.
Finally, Moonfall took a giant step down to #8 and fell 70% with $2.9 million in its sophomore outing (I was a little more generous with $3.5 million). Sing 2 and Scream managed to leap it for the sixth and seventh spots. The putrid gross is just $15 million.
It’s been pretty easy to predict each weekend’s #1 film for a while – a lot of Spidey, a one-week interruption by Scream, and Johnny Knoxville and his pranksters in Jackass Forever. That gets a little more complicated this time around as three new pics enter the marketplace: Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express follow-up Death on the Nile, the Jennifer Lopez/Owen Wilson musical rom com Marry Me, and the latest Liam Neeson revenge saga Blacklight. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the trio right here:
Let’s start with Blacklight. Had this Neeson led tale (his granddaughter gets taken in it) come out in February a decade ago, we might be having a different conversation. However, grosses for these genre exercises with the actor have dwindled over the past couple of years (see Honest Thief and The Marksman). Therefore my $3.8 million estimate puts it at the tail end of the top five.
Then there’s Marry Me. It’s shrewdly placed during Valentine’s Day weekend where couples could be searching out something to view on date night. They will have the opportunity to do so with Marry Me in the theater and on Peacock and that could eat into the earnings. I have it barely topping double digits, but will admit that it could over perform and even snatch the #1 spot.
Jackass Forever is the fifth feature in the 20-year-old franchise and the fifth to open at #1. Looking over previous sophomore frame dips for earlier pics, I was surprised at their low drops. For 2002’s Jackass: The Movie, it was 44%. 2006’s Jackass: Number Two fell 49% while 2010’s Jackass 3D was the steepest at 57% (it was coming off a massive $50 million premiere). Spinoff Bad Grandpa in 2013 only had a 37% decline. I’ll say Forever loses about 50% That could be good enough for anywhere from the 1-3 slot depending on how Nile and Marry pan out. There could be a photo finish for that two spot.
Murder on the Orient Express tracked a solid $28 million haul just over four years ago. Yet it didn’t leg out particularly well and I question whether audiences are truly excited for another dose of Hercule Poirot and his many suspects. I suspect it should still make around half of what its predecessor took in. That would get it to #1, but we’re in a situation where we could have three genuine contenders for the top spot.
Spider-Man should stay in the top five with Moonfall potentially dropping out. The Roland Emmerich disaster tale managed just a C+ Cinemascore grade to go with its weak opening. A sophomore fall in the 60% range appears likely.
It’s also worth noting that there’s a certain game between the Bengals and Rams taking place Sunday. We usually don’t see three high-profile releases on Super Bowl weekend and it’s fair to assume grosses will take a hit on that date.
Here’s how I see it shaking out for your top 6:
1. Death on the Nile
Predicted Gross: $14.3 million
2. Jackass Forever
Predicted Gross: $11.3 million
3. Marry Me
Predicted Gross: $11.2 million
4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Predicted Gross: $7.1 million
Predicted Gross: $3.8 million
Predicted Gross: $3.5 million
Box Office Results (February 4-6)
The Jackass franchise is five for five when it comes to opening #1 at the box office. Jackass Forever performed in line with estimates at $23.1 million, a touch ahead of my $21.8 million projection. It ranks fourth in terms of the quintet of debuts (just ahead of the original), but it’s certainly an impressive number given the circumstances.
As for Roland Emmerich’s disaster pic Moonfall… not so much. The big budget ($140 million) lunar saga cratered with only $9.8 million (I went higher with $12.8 million). As mentioned above, expect a precipitous drop in its sophomore frame.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was third with $9.5 million, swinging a bit above my $8.1 million take. The total has reached $748 million as it inches ever closer to 3rd domestically all-time (currently held by Avatar with $760 million).
Scream was fourth with $4.7 million (I said $4.4 million) and it’s scared up an overall tally of $68 million.
Sing 2 rounded out the top five with $4.2 million compared to my $3.6 million estimate. Total is $139 million.
Jason Statham stomps back into multiplexes on May 7th with Wrath of Man. The revenge action thriller marks his fourth collaboration with Guy Ritchie who directed him in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Revolver. Costars include Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett, and Scott Eastwood.
The MGM release finds Statham trying to carry a picture to solid grosses. In recent years, he’s mostly been seen in the role of Shaw in the Fast and Furious franchise and its spin-off. If you go back to 2013’s Homefront that primarily relied on his star power, it resulted in an opening weekend just south of $7 million. Wrath could manage to exceed that.
Wrath could post grosses in the range of recent Liam Neeson genre fare like Honest Thief and The Marksman, which both started with earnings in the $4 million range. I’ll give it a fairly significant bump from that since venues are in a better spot than when those flicks premiered.
Wrath of Man opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million
Liam Neeson headlines the first new wide release of 2021 with The Marksman next weekend. The action pic casts Neeson as a former Marine (with a particular set of skills I assume) protecting a young boy from harm by a Mexican cartel. Robert Lorenz, a frequent collaborator of Clint Eastwood, directs. Costars include Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, and Teresa Ruiz.
It goes without saying, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing many theater closures and limited audiences for fresh product. This looks to continue into the foreseeable future. That has made the forecasting of pictures quite a dubious proposition and I took a break for the last couple of months.
I shall try again. This is not Neeson’s first foray into available multiplexes during COVID. In October, Honest Thief debuted to $3.6 million stateside. Considering the circumstances, that was pretty decent. I suspect The Marksman won’t quite hit that target, but it should come pretty darn close.
The Marksman opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million