TAB The Marksman-1610948116197
Liam Neeson, left, and Jacob Perez in “The Marksman.” Image Credit: Open Road/Briarcliff Entertainme

If time is a flat circle, then it’s only fitting that a second Liam Neeson movie is ruling over the US box office during the pandemic. Months after his action thriller ‘Honest Thief’ led domestic charts, another Neeson (you guessed it!) action thriller ‘The Marksman’ has debut at No 1 with $3.2 million (Dh11.7 million) in ticket sales.

Robert Lorenz directed ‘The Marksman,’ about a rancher and retired Marine living in Arizona who helps a young boy escape a Mexican drug cartel. The film, which premiered in 1,975 locations, should rake in $3.7 million through the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday. Open Road, the distributor behind ‘The Marksman,’ also backed ‘Honest Thief.’ That film bowed to $3.7 million last October and ended its theatrical run with $14 million in the US and $28 million globally.

‘The Marksman’ joins the company of ‘Honest Thief’ and Robert De Niro’s ‘The War With Grandpa’ as some of the lowest-grossing box office toppers in modern history, highlighting the bleak reality that movie theatres are facing amid the country’s latest COVID-19 surge. Overall, around 65% of US theatres are closed due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ slid to second place after besting the (albeit muted) competition for three straights weekends. Warner Bros did not provide a three-day total, but the studio projects the Gal Gadot-led superhero sequel will generate $2.6 million through the extended holiday weekend.

However, ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ could drop to third place behind ‘The Croods: A New Age’ when Martin Luther King day sales are finalised on Monday.

‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ a DC Comics adaptation that cost $200 million to produce, released simultaneously on the fledgling streaming service HBO Max. It will be taken off the platform next Sunday, and the film will only be available to watch in theatres until it reaches its traditional home entertainment window. It’s expected to return to the streaming platform a few months later. Internationally, where HBO Max has yet to launch, the fantastical follow-up brought in $5.2 million, boosting foreign revenues to $105.9 million for a worldwide total of $141.7 million.

For now, Universal and DreamWorks’ sequel to ‘The Croods’ placed third, amassing $2.04 million this weekend and looking to cross the long weekend with $2.9 million. The animated family film actually improved upon last week’s grosses by 13%, which is impressive considering it’s currently available to watch on home entertainment. Last year, Universal forged an agreement with major theatre chains such as AMC and Cinemark to allow the studio to put new releases on demand after 17 days in theatres.

In return, select exhibitors are getting an undisclosed cut of digital profits. After two months in theatres, ‘The Croods: A New Age’ has made $40 million at the domestic box office.

Overseas, the movie added another $2.2 million from 17 countries for an international total of $94.7 million and a global tally of $134.8 million.

Another Universal title, ‘News of the World’ with Tom Hanks, landed in fourth place with three-day total of $1.05 million and an expected four-day tally of $1.27 million. The Western drama, which is also available to watch on-demand, has collected $8.72 million on the big screen. Rounding out the top five is Sony’s thriller ‘Monster Hunter.’ The video game adaptation with Milla Jovovich generated $920,000 over the weekend and should reach $1.09 million through MLK day. By Monday, it will have made $9.2 million to date.