That’s it. Summer has pretty much come to an end.
By July, Bullet Train had grossed $2.9 billion domestically, up 142% over last year but down 17% from the May-July summer period in 2019. it is the first billion-dollar month since December 2019. Expect a two-and-a-half-month dry spell without mass-appealing films but packed with adult counterprogramming after Bullet Train premieres. The expectation was that Bullet Train would earn $60M worldwide with at least $30M stateside for the Brad Pitt-starring, David Leitch-directed R-rated film 87 North.
While Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ score on the film is low at 58%, there is hope that good word of mouth will lead to an over-indexing here for the feature take of Kōtarō Isaka’s 2010 thriller novel. Bullet Train follows several assassins aboard a Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate train. The movie also stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny, Zazie Beetz, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Sandra Bullock, and Masi Oka. Before P&A, the picture cost a reported $90 million.
In 2017, Leitch released Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde with an $18.2M domestic start and Hobbs & Shaw’s early August 2019 spinoff of Fast & Furious. The domestic gross for Atomic Blonde was $51.6 million, while Hobbs & Shaw was $174 million. In North America ($325M) and worldwide ($786M), Deadpool 2 remains Leitch’s highest-grossing movie.
Over 35’s love Bullet Train, we hear. Hopefully, the dynamic 18-34 demographic will show up in droves. Previews start Thursday at 3 PM in 3,600 locations. In addition, the movie will show soon in 4,300 theaters, including Imax and PLF.
Adult audiences abroad are hungry for something new, which could help Bullet Train gain traction, particularly in Europe. The film is releasing in nearly all overseas markets this weekend, except in Korea, Italy, and Japan, which go later this month. China is not dated. Currently, the movie is in France and the UK. Australia, Brazil, Germany, and Mexico are joining Thursday, with Spain clocking in on Friday.
However, we do not have accurate like-for-like comps abroad. Therefore, we will also consider Pitt’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, released in August by Sony (following a mega Cannes premiere and with the Quentin Tarantino faithful lined up), and Fox’s original Kingsman, released in 2017. Domestic openings for two other movies are comparable to Bullet Train, such as Once Upon a Time’s $41M debut and Kingsman’s $36M debut.
There is a drag here due to parity between the Euro and the dollar. However, positively, some complaints about difficult-to-understand dialogue in English-speaking markets will not be an issue for overseas dubs.
Bullet Train will open the Locarno Film Festival tomorrow to boost the European launch.
Sony teased Bullet Train’s first 20 minutes at Cinema.