The posters state authoritatively, “you know his name.” And then there’s Matt Damon, half of his all-American visage cloaked in shadow, back in the role that solidified his place on Hollywood’s A-list.
Still, it’s been nearly a decade since Jason Bourne unpacked Treadstone and slowly pieced together the parts of a life story that a nasty case of amnesia wiped away. The promotional campaign aside, audiences could be forgiven if it takes them a minute to recall the Bourne moniker. Though Damon has left the butt-kicking to others, the influence of the Bourne movies and their handheld intensity remains omnipresent, helping to shape the action sequences in everything from the latest James Bond films to “Captain America: The Winter Solider.” But will audiences, increasingly fixated on comic book movies, still have a place in their hearts for one of cinema’s most durable super spies?
Universal will try to find out just how deep the reservoirs of goodwill remain for the franchise when “Jason Bourne” hits theaters this Friday. After engaging in a lackluster bit of universe building, keeping the black ops setting, but substituting Jeremy Renner for Damon, in 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy,” the studio has brought back the elements that made the series so compelling. They’ve enlisted Damon to revive the title character and paired him with Paul Greengrass, the director who brought a documentary-like intensity to “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.”
The $120 million production is on pace to debut to $50 million when it opens in 4,025 North American theaters. That should be enough to easily win the weekend, but it will trail “The Bourne Supremacy’s” $52.5 million debut and “The Bourne Ultimatum’s” $69.3 million launch.
“[Damon] is back in the role that people love him in,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “I would think there’d be more excitement around the movie. There’s more positive than negative reviews and they’re promoting the heck out of it.”
The Bourne franchise tends to be a slow burn, however, relying as it does on older audiences who don’t always rush out on opening weekend. With their exotic locales, they also tend to play well overseas. Universal will release the film in 42 markets over the weekend, padding its grosses. It should have no trouble topping $300 million worldwide, enough to put the film comfortably in the black.
Last weekend’s champ, “Star Trek Beyond,” will likely drop about 50% in its sophomore round, picking up roughly $30 million. That means the latest chapter in the long-running series will likely cross the $100 million mark at the domestic box office at some point next week.
With “Jason Bourne” and “Star Trek Beyond” the de facto choices for action fans, STX Entertainment will counter with the raunchy comedy “Bad Moms.” The look at a group of mothers who rebel against their PTA overlords by indulging in whippets and downing too much Chablis, is eyeing a healthy $22 million launch. That’s a strong opening considering that the film cost an economical $20 million to produce. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, and Christina Applegate lead the cast, while “The Hangover” team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore wrote and directed the film.
That leaves Lionsgate’s “Nerve” as the weekend’s only other new wide release. The techno-thriller stars Dave Franco and Emma Roberts as two people who get sucked into an elaborate “truth or dare” online reality game. The film will get a jump on the weekend, debuting on Wednesday. It cost less than $20 million to produce and should bring in roughly $10 million in its inaugural weekend, and $12 million to $15 million over its first five days in theaters. It will screen in roughly 2,500 locations.
Overall ticket sales should be roughly in line with the year-ago period — a patch of popcorn season that fielded the openings of “Vacation” and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” One of those movies extended a franchise, the other stopped one dead in its tracks. What will “Jason Bourne’s” legacy be?