The big-budget action adventure has been positioned as a key test of Holland’s bankability outside of his blockbuster success as Spider-Man. “Uncharted” has received mixed reviews at best, so it’s safe to assume the 25-year-old British actor had a healthy hand in selling tickets. It also helps that “Uncharted” is rated PG-13 and based on an extremely popular video game series.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, who previously returned for a “Zombieland” sequel after leading Tom Hardy’s “Venom” to box office glory, “Uncharted” is expected to earn $52 million from 4,275 North American theaters through the President’s Day holiday on Monday. It’s an impressive start for COVID times, but it doesn’t mean the film has an easy path to profitability. “Uncharted” carries a $120 million price tag, so international ticket sales will be key in getting out of the red.
To that end, “Uncharted” crucially landed a release date in China, the world’s biggest theatrical market. Visual effects-heavy action-adventures, like “Uncharted,” tend to play well in China. But recently the country’s censors have been ultra-selective about letting Hollywood movies screen in its movie theaters, and when the Chinese government has approved outside product, it’s been a real mixed bag at the box office. So while it’s a win to be able to screen in China, the film’s success in the country isn’t guaranteed. Since “Uncharted” isn’t opening in China until March 14, piracy could be a concern.
“This is an excellent opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Action adventures based on video games are big movies and this weekend’s figure is nearly double the average for the genre… Budgets run high, so ‘Uncharted’ needs to connect in every market. So far, it is doing that.”
As Gross notes, “Uncharted” has been a favorite among overseas audiences. Over the weekend, the movie has earned $55.4 million from 62 territories at the international box office and has crossed $100 million globally. Since opening in select international territories last weekend, “Uncharted has generated $139 million worldwide to date.
Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, praised “Uncharted” for being “a perfectly marketed film with appeal to a younger demographic, as well as more mature audiences. [It] clearly paid huge dividends for Sony,” he says. “Sequel anyone…?”
“Uncharted” follows the globe-trotting treasure hunter Nathan Drake and his wisecracking partner Sully (Mark Wahlberg, who was once attached to play Nathan Drake and has since aged out of the role) as they embark on a death-defying quest to uncover the greatest treasure never found. Complicating matters, the fearless explorers are racing against two baddies (played by Antonio Banderas and Tati Gabrielle) to locate the fabled fortunes. Audiences have awarded the film a “B+” CinemaScore. More than 60% of opening weekend crowds were male and roughly 70% were 35 or younger.
Executives at Sony say “Uncharted” welcomed a stronger-than-expected opening weekend turnout because the film is playing only in theaters. Unlike other pandemic-releases, such as “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Jungle Cruise” and “Black Widow,” people can’t immediately watch “Uncharted” at home.
“This result is yet another extraordinary testament to the appetite for the theatrical experience that Sony Pictures bet on,” Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group president Josh Greenstein said in a statement. “Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are brilliant together.”
“Uncharted” ruled over box office charts, but it wasn’t the only new nationwide release to beat expectations. Channing Tatum’s PG-13 canine adventure “Dog” landed in second place with $15.1 million from 3,677 locations. Through Monday, the movie is expected to gross $18.05 million. That is essentially blockbuster status for a film not based on comic book characters or another chapter in an existing film franchise. With its $15 production budget, “Dog” is already a winner for Tatum, who directed the movie with Reid Carolin, as well as MGM, who produced the movie along with FilmNation Entertainment.
The road-trip buddy comedy follows a former Army Ranger and his dog as they race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time. The feel-good film — it was marketed with the tagline “Don’t worry, the dog doesn’t die” — played the strongest in America’s heartland, where “Dog” generated more than 75% of its business, according to MGM. It has an “A-” CinemaScore, which indicates the movie should benefit from positive word-of-mouth. Among inaugural ticket buyers, 54% were female, 73% were over the age of 25 and 37% were 45 or older.
Elsewhere, Holland further confirmed his box office prowess as the lead in two of the top three films in North America. His other movie “Spider-Man: No Way Home” swung to the No. 3 spot on domestic box office charts. In its 10th weekend of release, Sony’s comic book sequel added $7.2 million between Friday and Sunday and should end Monday with $8.8 million. That brings its North American tally to a stunning $771.74 million, the third-highest in history not adjusted for inflation. Impressively, the latest “Spider-Man” adventure has remained in the top 5 on domestic box office charts since it landed in theaters in December.
Disney and 20th Century’s murder mystery “Death on the Nile” sunk to fourth place in its sophomore outing. After debuting last weekend with a leading $12.8 million, the film dug up just $6.3 million from 3,280 venues, a 51% decline. It’s expected to make $7.2 million through Monday, taking “Death on the Nile” past the not-so-coveted $25 million mark at the domestic box office. The movie has grossed $75 million globally, which isn’t all that great considering it cost a hefty $90 million to produce.
Paramount’s go-for-broke comedy “Jackass Forever” rounded out the top five with $5.2 million from 3,071 locations. It’s projected to bring in $6.2 million over the extended four-day holiday weekend. “Jackass Forever,” the fourth theatrical adventure for Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man and crew, has earned $47.7 million to date. That’s pretty solid since the movie cost only $10 million.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez’s romantic comedy “Marry Me” hasn’t yet found its happily ever after. Notching sixth place, the Universal Pictures film amassed $3.6 million over the weekend, marking a 61% dip from its opening. The movie is expected to finish with $4.2 million on Monday, which would take its domestic total to $17.4 million. “Marry Me,” which co-stars Owen Wilson and Maluma, is available simultaneously on NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock.
See this weekend’s domestic box office estimates:
- “Uncharted” — $44.1 million over the weekend, estimated $52 million through Monday
- “Dog” — $15.1 million over the weekend, estimated $18.05 million through Monday
- “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — $7.2 million over the weekend, estimated $8.8 million through Monday
- “Death on the Nile” — $6.3 million over the weekend, estimated $7.2 million through Monday
- “Jackass Forever” — $5.2 million over the weekend, estimated $6.2 million through Monday
- “Marry Me” — $3.6 million over the weekend, estimated $4.2 million through Monday