‘The Gray Man’ Falls Just Short of ‘The Kissing Booth 3’ as Netflix’s Fifth-Best Movie Debut

"The Gray Man" is no "Red Notice," but it was certainly no slouch over Netflix's opening weekend. Its box-office week is another story.
The Gray Man (2022). (L - R) Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen, Jessica Henwick as Suzanne Brewer. Cr. Paul Abell/Netflix © 2022
Chris Evans and Jessica Henwick in "The Gray Man"

No gray area here: With 88.55 million hours viewed over its first three days, “The Gray Man” starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans had the fifth-best launch week for a Netflix movie since the streamer began keeping (and releasing) records early last summer. The film’s ranking includes both English-language and non-English titles, though no foreign-language movies come close to Netflix’s Top 5 all-time.

The spy vs. spy movie blew away its closest competition, “The Sea Beast,” by nearly 55 million more hours viewed last week. The kids’ movie was in its third week and thus had seven days of viewership counted. Last week, its second one of availability and first full week on the platform, was the best one to-date for “The Sea Beast” with 68.11 million hours viewed.

“The Gray Man” enjoyed the most-watched opening weekend for a movie on Netflix since “The Adam Project” accumulated 92.43 million hours viewed in March. The other movies to open better (than “The Gray Man”) on Netflix were “Red Notice” (148.72 million hours viewed), “Don’t Look Up” (111.03 million hours viewed), and “The Kissing Booth 3” (90.86 million hours viewed). “The Gray Man” reached number one on Netflix in 84 countries.

These days, Netflix releases the vast majority of its series and movies on Fridays. “The Kissing Booth 3” premiered on a Wednesday, however, giving it a two-day availability advantage over the rest of Netflix’s Top 5 all-time movie premieres.

A week prior to its Netflix debut, Netflix released “The Gray Man” in just under 500 theaters. Over its opening weekend, the movie brought in an estimated $200,000-$250,000 at the box office. That figure likely translates to a $300,000-$375,000 week. Like “Red Notice,” “The Gray Man” had a massive (for a streaming film) $200 million budget. The other movies in this story were significantly cheaper to make.

“The Gray Man” has a runtime of 2 hours and 2 minutes. If it were as easy as dividing total-hours-viewed by runtime, that would mean 43.55 million people worldwide streamed the movie this past weekend. Of course, it is nowhere near that simple and Netflix doesn’t provide granular viewership data to the public (or the media). Surely super fans watched more than once; definitely even more people sampled it and stopped.

Multiplying that very basic breakdown by the average worldwide movie ticket price to suggest a potential theatrical return would make for some incredibly poor math. Do so if you’d like, but you will wildly overestimate the movie’s potential box-office windfall.

Suffice to say that “The Gray Man” did very little in theaters and did very much on streaming. And it’s about to do even more.

Earlier Tuesday, Netflix announced it was turning “The Gray Man” into a franchise that will include a sequel movie (again starring Gosling and again directed by Joe and Anthony Russo) as well as a spinoff film. The Russos and AGBO’s Mike Larocca will produce along with Joe Roth and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum for Roth Kirschenbaum Films. “The Gray Man” co-writer Stephen McFeely (“Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain America: Civil War”) is writing the sequel.

The spinoff will be written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. That installment is “set to explore a different element of ‘The Gray Man’ universe” with a logline still under wraps. There is no word yet if Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, or Regé-Jean Page will reprise their respective roles for either project.

“The audience reaction to ‘The Gray Man’ has been nothing short of phenomenal,” the Russo brothers said in a statement Tuesday. “We are so appreciative of the enthusiasm that fans across the world have had for this film. With so many amazing characters in the movie, we had always intended for the ‘Gray Man’ to be part of an expanded universe, and we are thrilled that Netflix is announcing a sequel with Ryan, as well as a second script that we’re excited to talk about soon.”

“The Gray Man” is based on the bestselling book series by Mark Greaney.

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