Jason Statham sits in a chair in Wrath of Man

During a normal year, the first weekend of May is a massive deal in the movie world. It's been established as the beginning of the summer blockbuster season, and it usually sees the release of a massive new release (typically from Marvel Studios). As we all know, however, and have heard/read thousands of times, 2021 is not a normal year. While we are certainly edging back towards normal while continuing to deal with the pandemic, studios are still being hesitant about putting out their biggest tentpole features while theaters continue to operate at reduced capacity. Because of this, the biggest new film to arrive on the big screen this past Friday was Guy Ritchie's Wrath of Man, starring Jason Statham, and while it did enough business to become the number one ticket seller in North America, the numbers aren't exactly staggering.

The earliest reports are in, and according to Box Office Mojo Wrath Of Man was able to take the box office crown away from Haruo Sotozaki's Demon Slayer, but it has done so while only making $7.3 million (the animated feature added $2.9 million to its domestic total). Compared to the last Guy Ritchie movie, 2020's The Gentlemen, the sales figures don't look that bad, as the new release did only slightly less business than the pre-pandemic release – but they definitely don't look great by normal May standards. Two years ago, Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Endgame was in its second weekend and managed to pull in $147.4 million, and three years ago the Russos' Avengers: Infinity War made $114.8 million under the same circumstances. One has to go back to 2014 and the release of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to find the last wide release to make less than nine-figures coming out during the first full Friday-to-Sunday in May. So while theatrical distribution is making a comeback, it's definitely not back in full force yet.

Wrath Of Man's performance can be called mediocre, but what the movie does have going for it is critic and fan response. Both Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham have had some mixed success with both groups in the past, but the bloody new release has received a "Fresh" rating of 66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and CinemaScore surveys resulted in the film getting an "A-" grade. This circumstance does give the thriller a chance to grow some legs at the box office, as word of mouth could get more people to check it out in the coming weeks. It certainly helps that, as noted, Hollywood isn't quite ready to pull out its big guns this month.

What's more disappointing about this weekend's box office results is that they show a step away from an important milestone that was hit last last Sunday. As I noted in my column at the time, last week was the first time since the start of the pandemic that seven movies made more than a million dollars in the three day stretch. Now we're back down to six – and one could point a finger at Billy Crystal's Here Today being the title that resulted in the industry having to lower the bar back down. Released in 1,200 locations, the new dramedy, which co-stars the director and Tiffany Haddish, only managed to make $900,000 and nab seventh place on the Top 10.

Is it possible that we could see a bounce back next week and possibly even a new milestone reached with eight movies making nine figures or more? It's not inconceivable. This Friday, May 14, we are not only seeing the release of Darren Lynn Bousman's Spiral: From The Book Of Saw, the first theatrically released franchise horror movie since the start of the pandemic, but Warner Bros. also has their latest hybrid big screen/HBO Max title locked and loaded in Taylor Sheridan's Those Who Wish Me Dead, starring Angelina Jolie. Both movies definitely have elements that appeal to mass audiences, but we'll just have to wait and see how well they manage to do. I'll be back here on CinemaBlend next Sunday to provide you with the numbers, and to check out what is also ahead in theaters and on streaming be sure to check out our 2021 Release Calendar.

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