“I think I can, I think I can… be the top movie at the box office,” says Sony’s original action movie that could.
The Brad Pitt vehicle “Bullet Train” should take No. 1 on domestic charts. The film earned $12.6 million from 4,357 locations on Friday and is projecting a $30 million debut. It’s a solid performance for an original film with no franchise ties or multiverse shenanigans, but the film will have to keep chugging through August to recoup its $90 million production budget.
The film’s all-star cast should help with that. Along with Pitt, the ensemble also includes names like Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock and Benito A. Martínez Ocasio, a.k.a. Latin music superstar Bad Bunny.
“Bullet Train” is seen as somewhat of a check-in on the type of film that audiences will mobilize to theaters for. The R-rated action flick will skew toward adult men — the most reliable demographic in terms of consistent theater attendance since COVID-19 lockdowns eased. However, with a marketing campaign that touts a colorful cast of characters instead of any known intellectual property, “Bullet Train” isn’t a surefire hit.
“Bullet Train” has earned a lukewarm response from critics, landing a 41% approval rating from top critics on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge was mixed on the film, writing that it is “trying [its] darnedest to channel the likes of Tarantino and Ritchie, even if the dialogue and mock-British accents aren’t nearly strong enough to earn such comparisons.”
Audiences have been more receptive to “Bullet Train.” The filmed earned a “B+” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating solid approval among general moviegoers. With August’s slate looking pretty light on high-profile releases, “Bullet Train” should be able to take advantage of a quiet theatrical landscape in the weeks ahead.
Directed by Pitt’s former stunt double David Leitch, who has since helmed actioners like “Atomic Blonde” and “Deadpool 2,” the film features the star as a hitman who accepts a simple mission aboard a high-speed train in Japan. However, he soon discovers that a crop of killers onboard have conflicting assignments of their own.
Meanwhile, Universal’s “Easter Sunday,” the weekend’s other new wide release, isn’t making much of an impression in its debut, grossing $2 million on Friday. The studio is projecting a muted $5 million debut from 3,175 locations for comedian Jo Koy’s comedy, which would land the film in eighth place on domestic charts.
“Easter Sunday” stars Koy as a struggling actor and father attending his dysfunctional Filipino American family’s Easter Sunday celebration. The comedy carries a modest price tag of $17 million before marketing and distribution costs, so Universal will cross its fingers for solid word-of-mouth and a month bereft of competing releases to give the film some passable legs.
More to come…
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