Some movies work because their concepts are good; some movies work because their stars are good. Transporter series, for whatever it has been worth, grew into a franchise not because people wanted to see someone drive a fast car and thrash bad guys; they wanted to see Jason Statham drive a fast car and thrash bad guys. So when Jason Statham did not come onboard for a fourth movie, people did not care any longer. The replacement, Ed Skrein, in The Transporter Refueled is not a star, and is no direct replacement for Statham. Neither did the movie writers manage to fill the gap of Statham with a better plot that could have led to good word-of-mouth. The end result – The Transporter Refueled opened with $7.1 million in North America which is the weakest for the franchise. Yeah, it’s even lower than 2002’s The Transporter ($9.1 million) when Statham was still relatively less known. On top of that, The Transporter Refueled has a 17% score on Rottentomatoes which would have made up the mind for those who were debating on whether to watch it or not. But things still aren’t that bad somehow. The movie’s budget is only $22 million, and so it might break-even at around $65 million globally. It has earned $10 million in foreign markets as of now which puts the global tally at $17.1 million. If it does manage $50 million in foreign markets, which is quite possible, The Transporter Refueled might still end up making money. So we need not call it a disaster yet. Nonetheless, as far as North America goes, they no longer care about this franchise, definitely not without Jason Statham.
The story is a little different for the other wide release, A Walk in the Woods. This adventure comedy film starring Nick Nolte and Robert Redford opened with $8.4 million in North America despite playing in almost half the theatres as The Transporter Refueled. The reviews are mixed, as the 47% score on Rottentomatoes would indicate, but still much better than the Ed Skrein flick. The biggest point though is the low production budget of only $8 million which makes A Walk in the Woods a hit film. Veteran actor Robert Redford is seeing a strong resurgence in his career, after being praised for his terrific performance in All is Lost in 2013, followed by a brilliant act in the 2014 Marvel movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and now A Walk in the Woods. Delighted for him!
At the top of the box-office charts though is last week’s surprise package War Room. The faith-based movie added close to 400 more theatres, and thus dropped by only 18% in its second weekend. The low-budget movie has already earned $25 million in North America (8 times its production budget already!). The other hit movie Straight Outta Compton continues to cheer the audience even in September; it has earned $166 million worldwide so far (about 6 times its production budget!). Two other milestones were achieved during the weekend – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation crossed $500 million worldwide, and Jurassic World crossed $1 billion in foreign markets alone! This feat makes Jurassic World only the fourth Hollywood movie to earn more than a billion dollars outside North America after Avatar, Titanic and Furious 7. Wow!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. War Room ($9.4 million; second weekend)
2. Straight Outta Compton ($8.9 million; fourth weekend)
3. A Walk in the Woods ($8.4 million)
4. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($7.2 million; sixth weekend)
5. The Transporter Refueled ($7.1 million)