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Liam Neeson’s ‘Honest Thief’ Takes No. 1 at the Box Office as Theaters Continue to Struggle

"Tenet" falls to #3 as new openings show it still has life and Halloween revivals — especially Tim Burton's — are all the rage.

HONEST THIEF, from left: Anthony Ramos, Liam Neeson, Jai Courtney, 2020. © Open Road Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Honest Thief”

Everett Collection

Post-“Tenet,” when major studios have all but abandoned theaters, it’s the indies that shine a little light. They have their pick of the screens and an ability to hold them not seen since… well, ever. (“Unhinged”: nine weeks and counting in the U.S.) It’s not enough to make up the difference of a COVID-impacted marketplace, but it’s enough for Open Road’s Liam Neeson vehicle “Honest Thief” to take no. 1 with $3.7 million

Overall grosses continued a slow uptick, with this weekend’s Top Ten total of $11.8 million the best since the second weekend of “Tenet” in the U.S. The full total looks to be around $14 million, again an improvement. (The same weekend in 2019 was $138 million.)

Regal, the second-largest chain, remains all but closed. New York state and Seattle are now open; New York City, Los Angeles County, and San Francisco remain closed. Those missing theaters impacted “Honest Thief,” which bested “The War with Grandpa” by a small margin in initial estimates. (Praise to Open Road for not including a full week of earlier Canadian grosses in its weekend report, unlike some of its competitors.) With access to all theaters and regions, “Honest Thief” might have seen $7 million.

Since “Taken” in 2008, Liam Neeson has made nearly a dozen action thrillers in the same vein (including the two “Taken” sequels), of which “Honest Thief” is the latest. The one prior, 2019’s “Cold Pursuit,” opened to $11 million. As a very rough guess, projecting $7 million as a feasible gross would suggest that audience reluctance to go to theaters is equal to a 35 percent-40 percent drop. These are the kind of equations studios consider as they determine which titles will go foraward this year. (Seating restrictions have had virtually no impact; there are far too few people going to test them.)

“Love and Monsters”

Paramount Pictures

Two other new titles appeared in the top 10. “2 Hearts” eschewed VOD and tried to appeal to younger females with its faith-based romantic story and Cuban-American appeal, went nowhere with only $565,000 in 1,683 theaters. That’s a per-theater average of $336. At least “Love and Monsters” had the excuse of parallel PVOD play. It took in $255,000 in 387 theaters.

With reduced competition, holdovers continued to show smaller drops. “The War with Grandpa” dropped 31 percent its second weekend, for #2. “Tenet” continued decent holds, down 25 percent at #3. It was helped by Seattle’s openings, where it held five of its 10 best theaters. That suggest that there is still interest in Christopher Nolan’s film and could mean significant new business ahead in other currently closed areas.

“Unhinged” and “The New Mutants” (now in its eighth week) continue in the top 10. “Tenet” and now “Unhinged” are the only titles to gross more than $20 million since theater reopenings began. “Tenet” is now over $50 million domestic and $334 million worldwide; the optimistic maximum is $400 million.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Three Halloween-related reissues placed in the top 10. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which is #4, joined “Hocus Pocus” from Disney. That’s the second Tim Burton revival, with “Beetlejuice” also placing. (Warner Bros. did not report numbers, but estimates are below.) His “Corpse Bride” (Warner Bros.) is #13. Indeed, 10 of the top 20 grossing films this weekend are Halloween revivals.

The pandemic will continue to inform many decisions, and many countries are seeing significant resurgence. Upcoming (at this writing) are Universal with “Freaky” (November 13) and “Croods: New Age” (November 20). Those titles have the incentive of the studio’s limited-window AMC deal. “Wonder Woman 1984” still holds December 18; word from Warners sources is it hopes to stay.

The Top Ten

1. Honest Thief (Open Road) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$3,700,000 in 2,425 theaters (+2,182); PTA: $1,526; Cumulative: $4,200,000

2. The War with Grandpa (101) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$2,502,000 (-31%) in 2,260 theaters (+10); PTA: $1,107; Cumulative: $7,256,000

3. Tenet (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #2

$1,600,000 (-25%) in 2,001 theaters (-214); PTA: $800; Cumulative: $50,600,000

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney) REISSUE

$1,323,000 in 2,194 theaters; PTA: $603; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 168,300,000

5. Hocus Pocus (Disney) REISSUE; Last weekend #3

$756,000 (-35%) in 1,640 theaters (-660); PTA: $461; Cumulative: $(adjusted) $93,500,000

6. 2 Hearts (Freestyle) NEW

$565,000 in 1,683 theaters; PTA: $336; Cumulative: $565,000

7. The New Mutants (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #4

$465,000 (-34%) in 1,293 theaters (-370); PTA: $; Cumulative: $22,721,000

8. Unhinged (Solstice) Week 10; Last weekend #5

$425,000 (-38%) in 1,276 theaters (-332); PTA: $364; Cumulative: $20,038,000

9. Love and Monsters (Paramount) NEW; also on Premium VOD

$255,000 in 387 theaters; PTA: $659; Cumulative: $255,000

10. Beetlejuice (Warner Bros.) REISSUE; Last weekend #8

$(est.) 220,000 (-2%) in 315 theaters (-54); PTA: $698; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 178,600,000

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