October 17, 2020 9:27am


Open Road

Updated, Saturday AM: Open Road’s The Honest Thief led Friday with $1.3M at 2,425 theaters, a figure that’s just under the $1.4M that Unhinged did on its first combined US debut-Canada Friday. The Liam Neeson film is moving toward a $3.6M three-day, and when rolling in Canada’s gross from last week, its running cume will stand at an estimated $4.1M. Honest Thief is getting an extra boost from Imax, Dolby, and PLF, formats which Neeson action pics don’t typically have access to in a highly competitive major studio tentpole environment.

As a constant reminder, movie theaters in New York State and the county of Los Angeles remain closed, as well as North Carolina. Overall 48 states have movie theaters open, but No. 2 exhibitor Regal is closed nationwide except for seven sites in California.

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Directed by Mark Williams, the co-creator of Netflix Emmy winning series Ozark, Honest Thief follows a notorious bank robber who, in wanting to lead an honest life, turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents. Kate Walsh and Jai Courtney also star.

On social media, RelishMix observes that Honest Thief has a campaign that’s propped by 5.7M Facebook views from 20 videos off the pic’s official page, with an additional near 10M views on YouTube from four trailers and spots.

Reports RelishMix, “Kate Walsh is loudly and clearly the social star for Honest Thief across her social media universe of 5.7M followers, with an Instagram of 3.2M, plus Twitter 900K and Facebook of 1.6k. She’s activated for the film in between posts for her Boyfriend perfume/beauty product line.”

That look u give ur #boyfriend when ya find out he’s been lying about his past and he’s actually a bank robber… 🙄 #HonestThief is now playing in theaters, kitties! Buy ur tickets today💥

— Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) October 16, 2020

Overall social media chatter is leaning positive for Honest Thief, with RelishMix further reporting, “Liam Neeson never lies. When he says he is ‘coming for you,’ he’s coming for you,’ cry fans, adding, ‘I will never understand why people continue to mess with Liam.’ Fans are finding materials on Facebook and YouTube as a week of opens chatter continues to build and the film hits calendar. And while select convo calls-out ‘giving away too much’, the trailer plot line twists are pulling positive-swinging chatter for early viewers.”

Critics may have slapped Honest Thief with a 35% Rotten score (only 40 film reviews were reviewed) but Rotten Tomato audiences enjoyed the Neeson pic at 86%.

Coming in second is 101 Studios’ War With Grandpa, with $711K Friday at 2,260 locations. Look for the Robert De Niro-Uma Thurman family comedy to come in around $2.4M, -35%.  That would put the pic’s 10-day cume at $7.1M.

Disney/Everett Collection

Disney had a one-two-punch with Halloween catalog titles in spots 3 and 4, respectively, with this weekend’s re-release of the Tim Burton production The Nightmare Before Christmas and weekend 3 of Hocus Pocus. Nightmare did $465K yesterday at 2,194 theaters, on its way to a $1M-plus weekend, while Hocus Pocus did $251K yesterday at 1,640, looking at a 3-day take around $700K.

Freestyle Releasing’s 2 Hearts, the other weekend’s wide entry in 1,683 theaters, looks to rank 5th with an estimated 3-day between $500K-$550K. 2 Hearts is 11% Rotten off 18 reviews with an audience meter of 83%.

Liam Neeson stars as “Tom Carter” in director Mark Williams’ HONEST THIEF, an Open Road Films release.
Credit : Open Road Films
Open Road Films

Friday AM: Open Road’s Liam Neeson action movie The Honest Thief posted a notable first night during the pandemic of $225K in previews.

Neeson’s action movies outside of Taken typically see largely double that or more than triple that in a healthy marketplace, i.e. last year’s Cold Pursuit posted $540K on its Thursday preview, The Commuter did $700K, and Run All Night grossed $455K on its first night, however, we need to keep in mind that the No. 2 exhibitor Regal is closed down (except for seven theaters in California) and, of course, Los Angeles and New York are still shuttered. Industry estimates hope that Honest Thief can peg a similar opening to another meat and potatoes action movie geared at older guys during the pandemic, Solstice Studios’ Unhinged, which did $4M in its first weekend at 1,823 locations (and not every exhibitor was open over the weekend of Aug. 21-23); that Russell Crowe movie on its way to doing a 5x multiple off its first wide weekend with a domestic of $20M.

Most distributors during the pandemic have opted not to report their Thursday night figures because they’ve been so low, but good on Open Road here for sharing the intel. The numbers helps both exhibitors and distributors evaluate the state of the box office, and make programming decisions.

Honest Thief last weekend got an early jump in Canada before its U.S. wide break this weekend, earning $364K at 264 sites.

Honest Thief, the first release under Tom Ortenberg’s revived Open Road, is booked at more theaters than Unhinged had in its first weekend with 2,425 locations. That includes drive-Ins nationwide, 180 IMAX sites, Dolby Vision, and all other premium formats. Forty eight states are cleared to have movie theaters open, excluding North Carolina, with San Francisco movie theaters opting not to open since local health officials prevent the selling of concessions; this despite the fact that the county and the city are in the orange California tier and can accommodate 50% movie theater capacities.

While movie theater marquees during the pandemic have typically accommodated only wide release per weekend (whenever that occurs), this weekend Honest Thief is sharing multiplex space with Freestyle Releasing’s YA faith-based drama 2 Hearts starring Euphoria star Jacob Elordi. That Lance Hool directed and co-written movie is in play at 1,683 locations.

“Open Road is proud to support US theatres with Liam Neeson in a role that audiences will love” said Ortenberg this morning,  “We know many Americans across the country are excited to be back at the movies.”

Next week Open Road has the YA sequel After We Collided available in theaters and on PVOD.