“Atomic Blonde” is an action/thriller opening July 28. It stars Charlize Theron as, essentially, the female version of “John Wick”. She’s feisty and likes to kick butt. Theron actually trained for “Atomic” in the same gym as “JW” star Keanu Reeves, who was getting ready for “John Wick: Chapter Two”.
That sequel opened in February has made more than $90 million to date. “Atomic Blonde” debuted at SXSW in March to rave reviews, with many praising the well-choreographed action sequences, and citing Theron’s similarities to Reeves.
“Atomic Blonde” is being distributed by Focus Features, a studio best known for their indie, arthouse films and awards season contenders that don’t usually make big bucks at the box office. The exceptions are their animated films through Laika. “Coraline”, “ParaNorman”, “The Boxtrolls” and most recently “Kubo and the Two Strings” have ranged from $48-$75 million in revenue and are four of the studio’s nine highest-grossing movies in the U.S.
“Brokeback Mountain” has sat atop the Focus all-time chart for the past 11 years with $83 million. I believe “Atomic Blonde” can surpass that. This is do-able, though it’s not a slam dunk.
While the buzz is strong with three months to go, it’s unclear what the momentum for “AB” will be like by the end of July – following a mother load of action movies: “Guardians Vol. 2”, “King Arthur”, “Alien: Covenant”, “Pirates 5”, “Wonder Woman”, “The Mummy”, “Transformers 5”, “Baby Driver”, another “Spider-Man” reboot, “Apes 3”, “Dunkirk” and “Valerian”. “The Dark Tower” opens just a week after “Atomic”. Will it get lost in the shuffle?
How many theaters is Focus willing to put the movie in? Is the concept too similar to “John Wick” for audiences to go for it? And will they enjoy seeing Theron in a role like this so soon after her villain work in “The Fate of the Furious”? (I’m sure the “Atomic” trailer has played in front of “Furious” everywhere in the country for the past two weeks.)
At this point, it’s a coin flip, but analysts should watch out because “Atomic Blonde” could seriously challenge “Brokeback Mountain” to become Focus Features’s highest-grossing U.S. release of all-time.