‘The Marksman’ Continues Pandemic Box Office Ride as Studios Further Delay Theatrical Releases

Open Road Films’ The Marksman maintained its second consecutive weekend atop the pandemic domestic box office, taking in an estimated $2 million across more than 2,000 screens Jan. 22-24. The Liam Neeson drama dropped about 35% from its $4 million debut over the previous Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

While the usual list of Universal/Focus Features titles filled out the majority of Top 10 theatrical releases, led by The Croods: A New Age ($1.82 million across 1,800+ screens), the weekend headlines had more to do with Hollywood studios further pushing back major Q1 theatrical releases to later in the year.

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With about 3,000 COVID-19 related daily deaths and almost 200,000 new infections, according  to Johns Hopkins University data, studios realize any influx of moviegoers will still be tempered even as a vaccines roll out nationwide.

Universal/MGM announced they would now release Daniel Craig’s last James Bond role, No Time to Die, on Oct. 8, while Paramount Pictures rescheduled John Krasinski’s  A Quiet Place Part II from April to Sept. 17. Disney’s 20th Century Studios pushed back its theatrical releases The King’s Man, Bob’s Burgers and Ron’s Gone Wrong from March and April to September and October.

Disney remains on track to release Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters and on Disney+ concurrently on March 5. Marvel’s Black Widow with Scarlett Johansson is still slated to bow theatrically on May 7. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures delayed Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway to June 11; musical Cinderella to July 16; and Ghostbusters: Afterlife to Nov. 11. The studio, which remains loyal to the theatrical window, pushed Uncharted  back to February 2022.

Sony also sold distribution rights to animated feature film The Mitchells vs. the Machines to Netflix.

Universal Pictures’ post-apocalyptic drama BIOS, starring Tom Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones, has been delayed to Aug. 13 from April 16.

“Given the uncertainty of the marketplace, a change of date is certainly better than a change of venue, so to speak from big screen to small screen,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNBC.