The theatrical industry may have been changed irrevocably by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, but some things will always remain the same no matter how bad everything else gets.
For instance, the first couple of months of the year typically feature a release schedule comprised almost entirely of awards-baiting prestige dramas and unwanted blockbusters sent out to die a slow death at the box office. That’s still the case, too, with the current domestic Top 10 including Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley’s $100 million flop Chaos Walking and the critically-panned Tom & Jerry, along with Best Picture nominees Minari and The Father.
Indeed, January through March is usually the prime season for low budget independent dramas to leverage their increased awards season recognition for a bump in earnings, but it turns out that the highest-grossing indie movie of the year so far is actually a Liam Neeson action thriller.
The grizzled star’s latest effort, The Marksman, knocked Wonder Woman 1984 from the top of the charts when it first debuted in the middle of January, and it’s since gone on to rake in close to $15 million from theaters in the United States and Canada. That’s almost as much as the combined domestic hauls of every Best Picture nominee from this year’s Academy Awards, although Netflix’s Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 were streaming exclusives.
It just serves to reinforce the continued popularity of Liam Neeson‘s favored subgenre, with The Marksman and Honest Thief making him the only star to have headlined two number one movies during the COVID-19 era. It’s fairly standard stuff, with action cinema’s elder statesman playing a former Marine roped into a border that has a drug cartel hunting a young child, but he’s still comfortably out-earning this year’s crop of acclaimed dramas at the box office.