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LOS ANGELES — Bullet Train, a John Wick-ian romp with Brad Pitt in the aisle seat, arrived in North American theaters with a $30.1 million opening weekend. That’s enough to top the domestic box office chart, but it’s only a so-so result given Bullet Train’s $90 million price tag and Mr. Pitt’s star power. The Sony Pictures release will need to maintain its momentum in the coming weeks as it tries to break even or turn a profit.
Bullet Train is trying to prove that an action flick that isn’t based on a comic book or a toy-line can defy the odds and resonate with audiences. But part of the issue for the film is that critics weren’t on board. Bullet Train landed a mediocre 41% approval rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers faulting the movie for being overly derivative of the work of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino. Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge was mixed on Bullet Train, writing that “neither the characters nor the film they inhabit are particularly deep.”
Bullet Train was directed by David Leitch, who once served as a stunt double for Mr. Pitt before moving on to oversee the likes of Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. It centers on a hapless hitman whose mission to nab a suitcase full of cash on high-speed train in Japan, devolves into double crosses and brutal fights with an army of competing killers, thieves, and social deviants.
Universal and Amblin’s Easter Sunday, the weekend’s other major release, stumbled in its opening frame, earning a meagre $5.3 million for an 8th place finish on domestic charts. Easter Sunday stars stand-up comic Jo Koy as an actor who attends his dysfunctional Filipino American family’s Easter Sunday celebration. The good news for Universal and Amblin is Easter Sunday was a modest bet, carrying a price tag of $17 million.
DC League of Super-Pets, an animated offering from Warner Bros., nabbed second place with $11.2 million. After two weeks, Super-Pets boasts a domestic gross of $45.1 million, a disappointing result given its $90 million production budget. Under its new corporate owner, Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to shake up its cinematic universe of DC Comics characters, a change of course that resulted in the company’s controversial decision to scrap Batgirl after the movie had been completed. Instead of debuting on HBO Max as originally planned or being retro-fitted for a theatrical run, the film will now become a tax write-down.
Universal’s Nope came in third with $8.5 million. That brings the twisty UFO thriller from Jordan Peele to $97.9 million at the domestic box office, an impressive result for a movie that, like Bullet Train, wasn’t derived from some preexisting piece of IP. Disney and Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder and Universal and Illumination’s Minions: Rise of Gru rounded out the top five, earning $7.6 million and $7.1 million, respectively. That brings the Thor sequel’s stateside total to $316.1 million, while the Despicable Me spinoff has now earned $334.6 million domestically.
On the milestone front, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick supplanted Titanic as the 7th-biggest film ever at the domestic box office, earning $662 million in ticket sales. The sequel, now in its 11th week of release, added $7 million to its total. — Reuters