Liam Neeson’s Latest Action Thriller ‘Honest Thief’ Debuts At No. 1 With $3.7 Million in North America; Meanwhile, Disney Guides Two Seasonal Re-releases Into The Top 5.
Eight months ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hobbled the movie business, every weekend felt like a heavyweight fight. Nowadays, each weekend is beginning to feel more like pillow fight. Still, in what turned out to be another soft weekend at the box office, Liam Neeson’s latest action thriller, Honest Thief, pulled in $3.7 million at the domestic box office and claimed the title of the No. 1 movie in North America.

The new high-octane thriller from Open Road Films starring the ageless action star as a double-crossed bank robber with a conscience had a $1,525 per-screen average in 2,425 theaters. It added another $1.3 million abroad, helping to bring its one-week worldwide total to $5.5 million.

Although the PG-13-rated film’s debut paled next to the bows of such recent Neeson macho-fests as 2019’s Cold Pursuit ($11 million opening) and 2018’s The Commuter ($13.7 million opening), the film’s freshman frame was muscular enough to unseat last week’s champion, The War with Grandpa. And while Honest Thief received lukewarm reviews from critics, it seemed to connect with moviegoers, who gave the film an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Finishing in the runner-up spot in its second week, 101 Studios’ The War with Grandpa took in $2.5 million, dropping 31% from the previous frame. The PG-rated comedy starring Robert De Niro managed a $1,106 per-screen average in 2,260 theaters, bringing its North American box-office total to $7.3 million. The kid-friendly comedy has tacked on an additional $3.5 million to date overseas, bringing its worldwide tally to $10.8 million.

In third place was Warner Bros.’ Tenet. In its seventh week of domestic release, Christopher Nolan’s aspirant blockbuster took in just $1.6 million, dropping 23.8% from the previous frame. The PG-13 epic managed a $799 per-screen average in 2,001 theaters, bringing its North American box-office total to $50.6 million. As usual, Nolan’s film fared better overseas this weekend, where its international box-office tally now stands at $283.3 million, bringing its cumulative worldwide total to $333.9 million.

In fourth place was Disney’s new re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Tim Burton-produced stop-motion animated classic, which initially opened in 1993, made $1.3 million in the first weekend of its 2020 re-release. The macabre musical, which has become an annual favorite around the Halloween and Christmas holidays, earned $50 million in its initial run 27 years ago. Now, it managed a $603 per-screen average in 2,194 locations. It has yet to be re-released internationally this year.

In fifth was yet another Disney re-release—which may be proof that the studio’s strategy of opening its vaults is paying off as big-ticket studio films keep pushing back their release dates. In its third weekend back in theaters, the PG-rated comedy Hocus Pocus added another $756,000 in 1,640 theaters, earning a $460 per-screen average. Year to date, the witchy Bette Midler comedy’s re-release has pulled in $3.8 million. It also added $26,733 internationally in the United Kingdom this weekend, its first in theaters overseas.

Simmering below those films were three other debuts that managed to claw their way into the Top 10: Freestyle Releasing’s2 Hearts, a PG-13-rated love story, opened in sixth place with $565,000 in 1,683 theaters, which translates to a $335 per-screen average; Paramount’s Love and Monsters, a PG-13-rated post-apocalyptic romance, opened in ninth place with $255,000 in 387 theaters for a $658 per-screen average; and Stage 6’s The Kid Detective, an R-rated whodunit, opened in tenth with $135,000 in 865 theaters for a $156 per-screen average. None of those three have yet to open overseas.

Despite the weekend’s lackluster receipts, there was one bit of potential good news for studios and exhibitors as New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the state’s movie theaters (outside of New York City, at least) a path to reopen at reduced capacity beginning on October 23. New York’s theaters have been shuttered since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in next week to see what impact that announcement has on the box-office landscape.