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Liam Neeson Is the Pandemic-Era Movie Star with ‘The Marksman’ as Another #1

Theaters are grateful for any new title. But there is zero evidence that, even where open, audiences are on the rise.

“The Marksman”

The box office is in a fallow period, but Liam Neeson prevails. He opened two films at #1 over the last four months; a few weeks ago, a decade-old Neeson title topped Netflix’s movie chart. Not bad for a 68-year-old actor who was Oscar nominated for “Schindler’s List” but is now one-man action/thriller brand.

The Marksman” knocked “Wonder Woman 1984” from the top spot; the DC title spent three weeks there while also showing on HBO Max. Directed by longtime Clint Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz, “The Marksman” stars Neeson as an Arizona rancher who becomes the unlikely defender of a Mexican boy pursued by cartel assassins. It ticks all the boxes for the Neeson brand: a lone wolf-turned-vigilante in pursuit of justice.

Neeson opened “Honest Thief” in October with $4.1 million on its way to $14 million in theaters. “The Marksman” opened to just over $3.2 million. With fewer theaters available, its per-theater average was only slightly lower.So

Since this is the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, all grosses got a boost (reported here are three-day totals). Even with that incentive, only one new wide film opened. The top 10 titles grossed a little under $11 million, with all films a bit over $12 million. That represents an increase from last weekend ($9 million and $10 million, respectively), which had no new films.

Last year’s Friday-Sunday total for the same three days came to $166 million, representing a 93 percent drop. That’s about as bad as it has been since theaters began to reopen in August — but fewer theaters are open now and many have reduced showtimes or days.

One other new title placed in the top 10. “Master” (Indin), a Tamil-language action film from India starring local superstar Vijay, placed #8 although it played only 107 theaters (with an estimated $214,00). Seven of the top 10 films are available at home. These showed mostly small drops from last weekend, or even improved grosses. Even those that became available as Premium VOD showed only minor decreases. “The War With Grandpa” actually went up 1 percent – the same time it went from PVOD to a standard-price VOD film.


The next new wide release is January 29 with Warner Bros. title “Little Things” starring Denzel Washington —which will play day-and-date on HBO Max. It will likely get near-maximum play from open theaters; exhibitors have no choice.

The Top Ten

1. The Marksman (Open Road/Briarcliff) NEW – Metacritic: 43

$3,225,000 in 1,975 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,633; Cumulative: $3,225,000

2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 8; Last weekend #2; also available on Premium VOD

$2,004,000 (+11%) in 1,855 theaters (+37); PTA: $1,080; Cumulative: $40,150,000

3. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #1; also available on HBO Max

$(est.) 2,000,000 (-33%) in 2,201 theaters (-17); PTA: $909; Cumulative: $35,200,000

4. Monster Hunter (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$1,090,000 (-5%) in 1,694 theaters (-71); PTA: $643; Cumulative: $9,200,000

5. News of the World (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #3, also available on Premium VOD

$1,050,000 (-15%) in 1,953 theaters (-33); PTA: $538; Cumulative: $8,720,000

6. Fatale (Lionsgate) Week 5; Last weekend #5; also available on Premium VOD

$530,000 (-19%) in 1,175 theaters (-47); PTA: $451; Cumulative: $

7. Promising Young Woman (Focus) Week 4; Last weekend #6; also available on Premium VOD

$430,000 (-24%) in 1,333 theaters (-115); PTA: $323; Cumulative: $3,400,000

8. Master (Indin) NEW

$(est.) 214,000 in 107 theaters; PTA: $2,000; Cumulative: $214,000

9. The Emperor’s New Groove (Disney) REISSUE

$169,000 in 744 theaters; PTA: $227; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 151,500,000

10. The War With Grandpa (101) Week 15; Last weekend #8; also available on VOD

$155,563 (+1%) in 422 theaters (+37); PTA: $369; Cumulative: $19,237,000

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