‘Wrath of Man’ Heist Film Leads Quieter Weekend Box Office

“Wrath of Man,” a heist film starring Jason Statham, opened atop the weekend box office with $8.1 million, ending five weeks of dominance by action movies set in Asia.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie from director Guy Ritchie had been forecast to generate about $7.8 million in domestic ticket sales. It far exceeded the No. 2 and No. 3 films, “Demon Slayer” and “Mortal Kombat,” which were released in April.

‘Wrath of Man’ Heist Film Leads Quieter Weekend Box Office

The weekend’s sales were in line with what theater executives describe as a slow recovery. Adam Aron, chief executive officer of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., said on May 6 that while ticket purchases have picked up from a year ago, they won’t accelerate until later in 2021, when major blockbusters held back during the pandemic are finally released.

“Films like ‘Wrath of Man’ are truly important since they serve as building blocks in the run-up to what will be a late start for the summer movie season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at researcher Comscore Inc. “And for many, seeing Jason Statham on the big screen, along with trailers for upcoming films, will serve as a reminder of the unique moviegoing experience.”

Statham stars as the mysterious “H,” who works at a trucking company that transports millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week. The film was recommended by 65% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Ritchie’s previous film, a crime-action film called “The Gentleman,” took in about $11 million on its first weekend in January 2020, when the Covid-19 virus was spreading across China but hadn’t yet walloped the U.S.

Tough Weekend

Overall, North American ticket sales were down from the previous weekend, according to Boxoffice Pro. It will take larger-budget films to draw in bigger audiences, and there have been only a few so far this year, including two films from Warner Bros. -- “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat.”

Studios are expected to release more of their highly anticipated, and expensive, movies by the end of the month. “A Quiet Place Part II,” from ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, is scheduled to come out on May 28. It was repeatedly delayed during 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That same weekend, Walt Disney Co. plans to premiere “Cruella,” a live-action film about the villain from the 1961 animated classic “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.”

At least some moviegoers will opt to watch films at home rather than venturing to the theater. “Cruella” will be available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra $30, while films from other studios will initially only be available in cinemas for a few weeks, before they are sold online.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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