‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ Looks To Assassinate The Competition
Our road to box office recovery has had its ups and downs, and after a few weekends in a row of $20+ million openers (A Quiet Place Part II, Cruella, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), it feels as if we’ve taken a step backward again as In The Heights and Peter Rabbit 2 under-performed, both opening in the low teens. Despite those soft openings, though, the overall weekend box office of $57 million was still the fourth best this year. Even if this weekend backslides below $50 million, an unthinkable number pre-pandemic, it will still be far ahead of where we were one month ago, and only one week remains until F9 hits, hopefully giving the industry the blockbuster opening it has been waiting for.

This week has just one new wide release offering: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. The sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard is packed with stars, with Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek returning from the original, while Antonio Banderas, and Morgan Freeman are added to the mix this time around. The Lionsgate/Millennium film opened Wednesday and had paid preview showings last weekend as well as Tuesday, and so far it has tallied $3.9 million from 2,940 theaters. The theater count on Patrick Hughes’ action-comedy will expand to 3,331 on Friday.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard opened to $21.4 million in August 2017, and went on to gross $75.5 million, with a worldwide cume of $176.6M. The reviews on the original were not especially good, with 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, though audiences liked the film, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore. The sequel has received an even worse response from critics and currently stands at 26% on the Tomatometer. Fans of the first film won’t likely be turned off by the bad reviews, though, and the sequel’s B CinemaScore suggests that like the first film, the audience opinion has greatly diverged from the critics.

The pre-release interest for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard on IMDb is below the first film, but coming close to the first film’s opening is not out of the question if you add in its preview and weekday showings. Still, it is unlikely that it will have the same legs as its predecessor, which was number one three weeks in a row, taking advantage of the lack of competition in late August and early September. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard won’t have that same privilege, with F9 racing in next week and The Forever Purge a week after, but it should comfortably assassinate the competition this weekend.

Last week’s top five should be this week’s 2-6, but the order is anyone’s guess. The weekend presents an opportunity for last weekend’s soft openers to show how leggy they may be, especially without any new competition for those looking for feel-good, family-friendly entertainment. A Quiet Place Part II came in first last weekend for an upset over In The Heights, but if In The Heights holds well, as its strong word-of-mouth suggests it might, the two may reverse.

Last weekend, A Quiet Place Part II became the first film to cross $100 million domestically since the pandemic began. This weekend we might see Godzilla vs. Kong become the second, with just a few hundred thousand dollars left to go, though it would have to drop negligibly from last weekend’s $290,801 gross to get there. To continue the modest milestones, Cruella will cross $60 million, just the third film since the pandemic began to do so.

Of note in limited release is Edgar Wright’s documentary The Sparks Brothers on the oft-overlooked musical duo Sparks. The film, which is at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, premiered at Sundance earlier this year and is being released by Focus Features.

Another Sundance debuting documentary with a perfect score on the Tomatometer is Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. Backed by PBS’ "American Masters" and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the doc is being released by Roadside Attractions.

Summer of 85, the latest from French auteur François Ozon, comes courtesy of Music Box.

In addition to their new release Stalker, Vertical is also re-releasing Miss Juneteenth in honor of the Juneteenth holiday. Also commemorating the just-inaugurated national holiday is AMC Theaters, with a Black Picture Showcase across the country in select theaters.