The new Liam Neeson action movie, The Marksman, took the number one spot at the box office this weekend, after Wonder Woman 1984 held the top spot for its first three weeks. But with a weekend box office of $3.2 million, Neeson’s latest film finally took down DC’s latest.
This is actually the third movie Liam Neeson has starred in for Open Road Films to debut at the number one spot. In October 2020, Honest Thief was the box office champ, and in 2012 The Grey took the top position at the box office. The president of Open Road, Tom Ortenberg, commented on this recently to say, “Mid-sized distributors like us have been able to fill the void and serve the need.” With the competition currently quite light due to the pandemic, it gives companies of this size more opportunity to stand out. “We can market and distribute movies for less money,” Ortenberg said, “our advertising dollars go far.”
Beyond their collaborations with Liam Neeson, Open Road Films has been moderately successful with smaller films. In 2017, they released Chadwick Boseman’s Marshall, and have previously produced such films as Oliver Stone’s Snowden in 2016, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut with 2014’s Rosewater, and the Steven Soderbergh thriller Side Effects in 2013.
Currently, the pandemic is still having an obvious and hard effect on box office numbers. In the United States and Canada, 60% of movie theaters remain closed. For comparison, the current Martin Luther King Jr. weekend box office record holders are American Sniper, which made $107 million, Ride Along at number two with $48 million, and 2019’s Glass with $40 million. While The Marksman may have earned more had it come out when more theaters were open, the smaller amount of theatrical releases coming out has shined a spotlight on Liam Neeson’s latest action film.
The Marksman is the second directorial effort from Robert Lorenz, after 2012’s The Trouble with the Curve The director is famous for previously producing Clint Eastwood’s films, such as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, and American Sniper. The Marksman takes place in Pima county in Arizona, along the border with Mexico. Liam Neeson plays a rancher and former marine about to lose his property on the border due to financial trouble. After coming into contact with a mother and son breaking through the wall, Neeson finds himself facing off against a Mexican drug cartel. Now, he’s responsible for the boy, who has family in Chicago. The movie becomes a road trip story for the boy and Liam Neeson, as they are hunted on their way to Chicago.
The critics had overwhelmingly negative opinions on The Marksman. The Detroit Free Press said, “There are more clichés than bullets flying around in The Marksman, an action movie starring Liam Neeson and all that implies. And there are a lot of bullets.” In another review, IGN said, “Liam Neeson’s deep-voiced, grizzled charisma, which has served him super well as a later-in-life action star, isn’t quite enough to pull The Marksman up and out of its formulaic dregs.”
While the critics seemed quite bored with the Liam Neeson movie, reviewer ratings made it sound a fair bit better. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a critics score of 34% but an audience score of 88%. On IMDB, the movie currently has a respectable 7.1.
But beyond Liam Neeson and Wonder Woman, the weekend box office is still understandably slow. The Croods: A New Age, which came out eight weeks ago and is already available on video-on-demand, is currently the #2 film with a little over $2 million this weekend. However, with the exception of Disney’s rerelease of The Emperor’s New Groove at #9, the top ten for this weekend is all new films, which is a rarity in recent months, considering many theaters have relied on rereleases to boost ticket sale.
As for Wonder Woman 1984, the movie opened Christmas weekend with $16.5 million, On its fourth weekend out, it has now taken the number two spot behind Liam Neeson’s action-thriller with $2.6 million. This shows a sharp decline in box office numbers. It’s unclear if that truly means a lack of fan interest in the movie or a lack of interest in visiting a public theater in the US with COVID-19 numbers on the rise. The movie has also been available on HBO Max for streaming. It leaves the streaming service on January 25th.
Interestingly, there is currently a rumor that Liam Neeson may be playing Zeus in Wonder Woman 3. This would be a major role for Neeson and a fun one to see him take on. It’s a break from his reason run of action-thrillers. However, the actor has publicly said he plans to retire soon. We’ll have to wait and see if the rumors prove true for the third Wonder Woman.