The first weekend of August will see the release of Sony/Columbia’s R-rated action comedy “Bullet Train” in what will be the final major release period for the summer box office.
After this weekend, none of the remaining major studio releases, which include the Idris Elba thriller “Beast,” are projected to earn opening weekends of more than $15 million. “Bullet Train,” which features an ensemble cast led by Brad Pitt, is expected to top the charts this weekend with an opening of at least $26 million, though most independent and analyst projections expect an opening of around $30 million from 4,300 screens.
With an irreverent, gory tone reminiscent of the “Deadpool” films — in good part because “Deadpool 2” filmmaker David Leitch is directing — “Bullet Train” stars Pitt as Ladybug, an assassin summoned to a Japanese bullet train bound for Kyoto for what should be a simple theft of a briefcase. Instead, Ladybug ends up falling into a deadly conflict with other assassins, all seemingly bound by fate.
Reviews for “Bullet Train” have been mixed with a 57% Rotten Tomatoes score, but Sony is banking on the film legging out through August with no major competition coming up. Five years ago, Sony got strong word-of-mouth with another R-rated action film, “Baby Driver,” turning a $20.5 million opening into a $107.8 million domestic and $225 million global box office run.
But while “Baby Driver” had a $34 million budget, “Bullet Train” has nearly triple that at $90 million, significantly raising the bar for profitability. Critics’ reviews, which can help boost a film’s prerelease buzz, also haven’t been as strong as for “Baby Driver,” so audience word-of-mouth will have to be very strong for this film to be a success.
Meanwhile, Universal’s “Easter Sunday” has a much lower bar to clear with a $17 million budget, as projections have the film earning a $5-$7 million opening with a chance to stretch to $9 million. Directed by “Super Troopers” filmmaker Jay Chandrasekar, the film stars Jo Koy in a role based on his life and career, playing a comedian who takes his son to meet his Filipino-American family at an Easter gathering. Reviews have not been published at time of writing.
Finally, A24, which found some box office success with Ti West’s “X,” will release another slasher film with the horror comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies” on six screens in Los Angeles and New York. Starring Pete Davidson, Amandla Stenberg and “Borat 2” star Maria Bakalova, the film follows a group of Gen Zers spending a night playing a mystery killer game at a posh mansion… only to find that there’s an actual killer in their midst. Reviews have been very positive with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, and the film will try to match the $11.7 million total that “X” earned in March.