Another weekend, another new Liam Neeson action-thriller in theaters.
“Memory,” the actor’s nth COVID-era caper to play on the big screen, debuted over the weekend to $3.1 million from 2,555 North American cinemas. Its eighth-place finish is a weak result, but one that’s close to Neeson’s recent theatrical releases like “Blacklight” ($3.6 million debut), “Honest Thief” ($3.6 million debut) and “The Marksman” ($3.1 million debut).
Since Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment’s “Memory” is the only new nationwide release, last weekend’s champion “The Bad Guys” topped the box office again. In its sophomore outing, the Universal Pictures animated heist comedy earned $16.1 million from 4,042 locations, bringing its domestic tally to $44.4 million.
“Mr. Neeson’s pre-pandemic crime pics did well, including the successful ‘Taken’ series, but audiences are showing little interest now,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. At the same time, there appears to be a very loyal demographic that is willing to return time and time again to watch the hulking Neeson avenge someone’s death.
Directed by Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”), “Memory” centers on Neeson as an assassin who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Variety’s Peter Debruge called the film, which has a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, a “retread” of familiar Neeson roles. “In the end, ‘Memory’ isn’t terribly convincing, but it’s at least trying for something more serious than most,” Debruge wrote.
Overall, it’s been a quiet weekend in theaters as Hollywood braces for Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which opens on Friday. The Marvel film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and takes place after the events of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” is expected to deliver huge box office ticket sales. Until then, several holdover titles rounded out box office charts.
In second place, Paramount’s family-friendly “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” added $11.3 million from 3,801 locations. After four weeks on the big screen, the “Sonic” sequel has grossed $160.9 million at the domestic box office. The film has officially surpassed the first film’s $148 million box office tally, making “Sonic 2” one of the rare pandemic-era films to earn more than its predecessor. However, COVID-19 likely cut short the theatrical run for 2020’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which debuted roughly one month before official lockdowns began in North America.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” again took third place on North American charts with $8.3 million from 3,962 screens. The latest chapter in the “Harry Potter” prequel series is by far the lowest-grossing of the Wizarding World film franchise. “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has generated $79 million to date and faces an uphill battle to cross $100 million domestically. Internationally, “Fantastic Beasts 3” is far more popular, adding $25.8 million over the weekend and $250 million overseas to date. Worldwide, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has amassed $329 million.
Director Robert Eggers’ blood-soaked Viking epic “The Northman” and A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” took spots four and five on domestic box office charts.
“The Northman” fell 49% from its $12 million debut, bringing in $6.3 million from 3,284 theaters. The $70 million-budgeted film, from Focus Features, has grossed $22 million so far. At the international box office, “The Northman” made $4.4 million from 45 foreign territories, boosting its overseas total to $18 million and its global tally to $41 million. Unless the movie takes off internationally, its huge production budget means “The Northman” will struggle to get out of the red in its theatrical run.
In its sixth weekend of release, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” added $5.5 million from 2,200 cinemas. To date, the genre-defying movie — starring Michelle Yeoh and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — has generated a mighty $35 million in North America.