Box Office: ‘Bullet Train’ Nabs $13 Million Friday As ‘Easter Sunday’ Stumbles

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In new release news, Sony’s Bullet Train opened with $12.62 million on Friday, with $4.6 million coming from Tuesday and Thursday previews. Presuming it legs out only as well as The Suicide Squad, we’re looking at a $27 million opening weekend. If it’s as leggy as The Lost City (which had better reviews and an identical B+ Cinemascore grade), then it’ll open with $33 million. Either would be fine for the R-rated, new-to-you adaptation (based on a Japanese novel), which is positioned as the last big movie of the summer. The $90 million release is hoping for “last biggie of the summer” legs akin to (relatively speaking) The Fugitive, The Sixth Sense, S.W.A.T., The Bourne Ultimatum, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Suicide Squad and The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

The Brad Pitt (in pure movie star mode)-and-friends flick, co-starring Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Andrew Koji, Brian Tyree Henry and more, cost $90 million and generally fits the pre-Covid criteria for a viable non-franchise flick. It has an all-star cast, a marquee director (David Leitch co-directed John Wick and then helmed Atomic Blonde, Hobbs and Shaw and Deadpool 2), a high concept (colorful assassins try to kill each other on a speeding bullet train), halfway decent reviews and the promise of escapism. The tone is very much ‘action comedy.’ The reviews aren’t great, 54% and 5.6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, but even the pans assure folks they’ll get what’s sold in the trailers. If The Lost City and Bullet Train were critical releases for the commercial theatrical survival of the ‘just a movie,’ both films are keeping hope alive.

Universal released Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday this weekend. The film about a successful entertainer returning home for the holiday and trying to solve long-standing family melodramas earned $500,000 on Thursday and $2.03 million on Friday. That suggests a lousy $5 million opening weekend, taking us back to the bad old days of 2021, where almost every non-tentpole was hovering just over/under $5 million on opening weekend. Even with poor reviews (47% and 5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) and soft buzz (a B+ Cinemascore), it’s unfortunate that one of this year’s few live-action comedies, one co-starring Jimmy O. Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada and Asif Ali, is faltering. With Marry Me, Easter Sunday and both Bros and Ticket to Paradise opening this Fall, Universal is somewhat trying to keep the big-screen comedy alive.

A24 and Stage 6’s youth-skewing Bodies Bodies Bodies opened in six theaters in advance of a wide release next weekend. The acclaimed and buzzy And Then There Were None riff stars Maria Bakalova, Amandla Stenberg, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold, Pete Davidson and Lee Pace and is currently at 91% and 7.5/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it’s one of those A24 chillers I expect to play better with critics than audiences. I wasn’t big on the first half, strong performances aside, but the third act works, and it has a terrific epilogue. Halina Reijn’s horror comedy earned $94,762 on Friday for a likely $232,000 opening weekend. That’s a promising $38,683 per-theater average, even if the next month or so is packed (The Fall, Beast, The Invitation, Barbarian, Pearl, etc.) with horror movies.

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