How ‘Wrath Of Man’ Reaffirmed Jason Statham’s Worth As An Action Star

Wrath of Man is tops on Vudu and Fandango, has earned about as much worldwide as Mortal Kombat, and has a bigger global total than almost any other non-franchise/non-ensemble Jason Statham action movie.

Not a huge surprise, but Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man was tops this weekend over at Vudu and FandangoNow, followed by (for both charts) Godzilla Vs. Kong, The Unholy (which is one of my favorite religious horror movies in recent years) and Raya and the Last Dragon. The MGM (in North America) and Miramax (overseas) action thriller opened theatrically on May 6, technically being the unofficial “summer kick-off movie” a week before Spiral: From the Book of Saw (which debuted on PVOD yesterday) and two weeks before A Quiet Place part II and Cruella. It was the smallest summer kick-off movie, opening with just $8.3 million, since, offhand, the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil ($7.1 million) in 1989 and FX 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion ($5.4 million) in 1991. But by Jason Statham standards, it’s a huge hit.

First, that $8.3 million launch was Jason Statham’s first chart-topping solo action flick since Transporter 2 (a $20.5 million Fri-Mon debut over Labor Day weekend) in 2005. It marked the first time a non-franchise Guy Ritchie flick (obviously not counting Aladdin and the Sherlock Holmes duo) had opened at the top of the domestic box office. Moreover, that Fri-Sun figure was entirely in line with a standard non-event/non-franchise/non-ensemble Jason Statham action flick. It was right in the $6-$9 million comfort zone of almost every non-franchise, non-ensemble Statham actioner (Transporter, Crank: High Voltage, Safe, Homefront, The Bank Job, Parker, etc.) that actually got a nationwide theatrical release. Even with theaters operating with limits on capacity and operating hours, Wrath of Man still pulled 100% “business as usual” business. And it didn’t stop on opening weekend or in North America.

After 25 days in theaters, the R-rated, brutally violent and narratively zig-zaggy heist thriller has earned $22.7 million domestic. That’s no king’s ransom, but it’s above (or will soon be above) the $14-$23 million likes of Crank: High Voltage, Safe (my personal favorite of the bunch), Parker, Homefront, Mechanic: Resurrection and War. Once it gets past $25 million domestic (give it a few weeks), it’ll have topped the unadjusted domestic grosses of Killer Elite (a $70 million actioner co-starring Clive Owen and Robert De Niro) and The Transporter (which helped turn Statham into a household name). I’m guessing the $28-$44 million likes of Crank, The Mechanic, The Bank Job, Snatch (Guy Ritchie’s domestic high mark for gangster flicks), Transporter 3, Expendables 3 (obviously not a solo actioner, but it outright tanked with $39 million), Death Race, Transporter 2 and The One (which, like War and the Expendables films, co-starred Jet Li).

No, none of that accounts for inflation, but Transporter 3 wasn’t playing in theaters during a still-potent pandemic, nor did Crank have to contend with related capacity and operating hours issues. The grimdark flick, about a mysterious “very good at murder” dude out to avenge his son’s death at the hands of reckless and ruthless cash truck hijackers, has also earned $80 million worldwide. That’s just under (for now) Mortal Kombat’s $81.2 million cume and almost double the $47 million global gross of Universal’s crowd-pleasing and sequel-friendly Nobody. Moreover, partially but not entirely thanks to $24 million in China, Wrath of Man is one of the biggest-grossing solo Statham actioners ever. If we’re dealing with solo/non-franchise Jason Statham action movies, Wrath of Man’s $80 million gross currently sits below Mechanic: Resurrection ($126 million), Transporter 3 ($109 million), Transporter 2 ($88 million) and Snatch ($84 million).

Snatch is an ensemble piece and more of a gangster comedy than an actioner, but if Wrath of Man passes it that will be a moot point. Now that doesn’t count his turns in The Fast Saga (villain in Furious 7, anti-hero in Fate of the Furious and good guy in Hobbs & Shaw), nor his second-only-to-Stallone turns in the Expendables trilogy, The Meg or his supporting turns in the likes of Spy, The Italian Job or Gnomeo and Juliet. I don’t know if Wrath of Man will pass Transporter 3, and it’s probably not going to top $100 million. With $45 million overseas and a likely finish over/under $50 million, its foreign cume will be right between (for now) Transporter 2 ($46 million), Mechanic ($48 million), Snatch ($53 million, if you choose to count it), Transporter 3 ($81 million) and Mechanic Resurrection ($104 million).

It could end up, give or take Snatch, Statham’s third-biggest overseas-grossing solo/non-franchise action flick. This, again, in the middle of a global pandemic amid shattered theatrical windows and (allegedly) changing consumer behavior. Mechanic: Resurrection earned $22 million domestic in late 2016 and, partially thanks to $54 million in China, $126 million global on a $40 million budget. That was his last “just an actioner” until now. Those two flicks, opening amid Statham’s metaphorical promotion as an added value element in Furious 7 ($1.515 billion), Spy ($235 million) and The Meg ($530 million), are both among Statham’s biggest global-grossing action vehicles ever. Statham never really got his “B movie to A movie” bump, partially because Hollywood barely makes films like Total Recall, Under Siege or Cliffhanger. However, Statham’s appearances in the bigger, more mainstream Hollywood flicks boosted his profile in terms of what was once his stock-and-trade.

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