Bullet Train , the John Wick-Yan film starring Brad Pitt, opened with $30.1 million in its opening weekend. That’s enough to top the domestic box office charts, but it’s only a so-so result considering Bullet Train’s $90 million budget and Peeta’s star power. The Sony Pictures release will need to maintain its momentum in the coming weeks as it tries to break even or turn a profit.
Bullet Train tries to prove that an action movie that isn’t based on a comic book or a toy series can defy the odds and resonate with audiences. But part of the film’s problem is that the critics didn’t accept it. Bullet Train received a mediocre rating of 41% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, and many reviewers faulted the film for deriving too much from the work of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino. Variety’s chief film critic, Peter Debrugge, was mixed on Bullet Train, writing that “neither the characters nor the film they inhabit are particularly deep.”
Bullet Train was directed by David Leitch, who was once Pete’s understudy before moving on to direct films like Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. It centers on a hapless hit man whose mission to seize a suitcase full of cash on a high-speed train in Japan turns into double crosses and brutal battles with an army of rival assassins, thieves and social deviants.
Universal and Amblin’s “Easter Sunday,” another big weekend release, stumbled in its opening frame, earning a paltry $5.3 million ($5.3 million) for eighth place on the domestic charts. Easter Sunday stars stand-up comedian Joe Coy as an actor who attends an Easter celebration in his dysfunctional American-Filipino family. The good news for Universal and Amblin is that “Easter Sunday” was a modest 17 million ($17 million).
“DC League of Super-Pets,” an animated offering from Warner Bros., finished second with $11.2 million. After two weeks, Super Pets boasts a domestic gross of $45.1 million ($45.1 million), a disappointing result given its $90 million production budget. Under its new corporate owner Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to shake up its cinematic universe of DC Comics characters, which led to the company’s controversial decision this week to drop the Batgirl movie after the film was completed. Instead of debuting on HBO Max as originally planned, or being upgraded for theatrical release, the film will now be a tax write-off.
Universal’s song came in third with $8.5 million ($8.5 million). That brought Jordan Peele’s twisted UFO thriller to $97.9 million domestically, an impressive result for a film that, like Bullet Train , wasn’t taken from any pre-existing piece of IP. Disney and Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” and Universal and Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” round out the top five, earning $7.6 million and $7.1 million, respectively. Thus, the total for the Thor sequel in the US was $316.1 million, while the Despicable Me spin-off earned $334.6 million domestically.
In limited release, Bodies Bodies Bodies grossed $226,526 on 6 screens in New York and Los Angeles for a $37,754 per screen average. A24’s horror film follows a group of wealthy 20-somethings at a whirlwind party at a remote family mansion that becomes the site of much bloodshed. The cast includes former “SNL” star Pete Davidson, “The Hate U Give’s” Amandla Stenberg and “Borat 2” breakout Maria Bakalova.
A highlight is Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which displaced “Titanic” as the seventh-biggest film at the domestic box office, earning $662 million in ticket sales. The sequel, in its eleventh week, added US$7 million to its total.
In recent months, the domestic box office has experienced an impressive rebound; it’s a revival fueled by hits like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The bad news for theaters is that Bullet Train is the last big-budget film from a major studio this summer, and it’s going to be a veritable desert when it comes to populist films. Studio executives and theater owners privately say there won’t be a blockbuster until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is released on Nov. 11. It’s a long time to wait, especially for the exhibition industry, which is still trying to shake off the long-term impact of the COVID closures and reduced attendance.