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Liam Neeson’s ‘The Marksman’ Snipes ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Off No. 1 Spot at Box Office

Open Road thriller projected to take in $3.75 million on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend

The reign of “Wonder Woman 1984” atop the pandemic box office has come to an end at the hands of Open Road’s Liam Neeson thriller “The Marksman,” which is opening on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to an estimated $3.75 million from 1,975 screens.

The film stars Neeson as a retired Marine living near the Mexican border, who reluctantly takes in a migrant boy named Miguel after his mother is killed by a drug cartel. With the cartel still chasing them, the two head north to find Miguel’s family in Chicago. Directed by Robert Lorenz, the film has a 33% Rotten Tomatoes critics score and an 88% audience score. This is Open Road’s third Neeson action movie to reach No. 1, joining the distributor’s first wide release “The Grey” and last October’s “Honest Thief.”

While the arrival of “The Marksman” has slightly nudged overall weekend numbers higher — Friday through Sunday totals are back above $10 million after dipping below that last weekend — the estimated $14.3 million made during this extended holiday weekend is down a staggering 94% from last year’s MLK weekend when totals finished at $205 million. Theaters have been hoping that a steady recovery can begin with the start of summer blockbuster season in May, but a slow start to the COVID-19 inoculation process has had epidemiologists push back timetables for when the public might be able to receive the vaccine. Meanwhile, the rise of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 has intensified warnings against even short indoor activities such as grocery shopping, let alone extended ones like watching a movie in a theater.

Meanwhile, Universal/DreamWorks’ “The Croods: A New Age” is vying for the No. 2 spot with “Wonder Woman 1984,” and it’s expected that it will take until Monday to see which one comes out on top. Universal is reporting a 4-day estimate of $2.9 million, which will push the animated film’s total to $40 million domestically and $134 million globally after staying in the Top 5 for the past two months. “WW84” is just behind with an estimated $2.6 million, giving it a domestic total of $35.8 million and a global total of $141.7 million.

Completing the Top 5 are Universal’s “News of the World” and Sony’s “Monster Hunter,” both of which are estimated to make just over $1 million after the extended weekend. “News of the World” is estimated to finish fourth with a 4-day total of $1.27 million and a cume of $8.7 million, while “Monster Hunter” is set to take fifth with $1.09 million over the weekend and a total of $9.2 million.