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Cinema

“Bad Guys” Repeats at No. 1, Liam Neeson’s Latest Misfires

The DreamWorks animated heist movie “The Bad Guys” was the top film in U.S. and Canada theaters for the second straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, while the latest Liam Neeson thriller suggested the actor’s particular set of skills may be wearing thin with audiences.

“The Bad Guys,” distributed by Universal Pictures, made $16.1 million in ticket sales in its second weekend, holding well with only a 33% drop from last weekend. The film, adapted from Aaron Blabey’s kids’ graphic novel, has helped reignite family moviegoing.

April moviegoing was largely dominated by Paramount Pictures’ “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” — which stayed in second place with $11.4 million, bringing its cumulative total to $160.9 million — and “The Bad Guys,” with $44.4 million in two weeks.

The latest Neeson thriller, “Memory,” however, was mostly forgotten by moviegoers. The Open Road-Briarcliffe Entertainment R-rated release launched with an estimated $3.1 million in 2,555 locations. That’s much in line with the last few films staring Neeson. In the past two years, “Blacklight” (a $3.5 million debut), “Honest Thief” ($4.1 million) and “The Marksman” ($3.1 million) all opened similarly.

The last Neeson thriller to make a dent was 2019’s “Cold Pursuit,” which debuted with $11 million and ultimately grossed $62.6 million worldwide. But either due to oversaturation or lackluster reception (“Memory” has a 30% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes”), a once dependable box-office force has gone cold.

“Neeson’s pre-pandemic crime pics did well, including the successful ‘Taken’ series, but audiences are showing little interest now,” David A. Gross, who runs the movie consultancy FranchiseRe, wrote in a newsletter. “Moviegoing activity is improving, but ‘Memory,’ as well as ‘Blacklight’ and ‘The Marksman,’ are hitting a wall.”

The eighth-place “Memory” was the only new wide release on a quiet weekend in theaters ahead of the Friday release of Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” The Walt Disney Co. release will effectively kick off Hollywood’s summer season, one the industry is hoping will approach pre-pandemic levels.

Studios last week trumpeted their summer slates at the industry convention CinemaCon, raising expectations for big-budget films like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World Dominion.”

The brightest spot in theaters currently continues to be “Everything Everywhere all at Once,” which dropped just 2% in its sixth week of release with $5.5 million. The film, an existential metaverse action comedy starring Michelle Yeoh, has had unusually long legs in theaters, and with $35.5 million in sales so far, ranks as one of indie studio A24’s biggest hits.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “The Bad Guys,” $16.1 million.

2. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $11.4 million.

3. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” $8.3 million.

4. “The Northman,” $6.3 million.

5. “Everything Everywhere all at Once,” $5.5 million.

6. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” $3.9 million.

7. “The Lost City,” $3.9 million.

8. “Memory,” $3.1 million.

9. “Father Stu,” $2.2 million.

10. “Morbius,” $1.5 million.

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