Crowe’s ‘Unhinged’ earns encouraging $4M in biggest movie release since theaters closed

Rob Golum and Yueqi Yang

The Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” brought in $4 million in North American box-office sales this weekend, an encouraging debut for the biggest new-movie release since the Covid-19 virus closed theaters in March.

The film, from the independent movie company Solstice Studios, opened in 1,823 locations in the U.S. and Canada, the industry researcher Comscore Inc. said Sunday. Only about one-third of the 5,800 theater locations have reopened, Comscore said.

This image released by Solstice Studios and Ingenious Media shows Russell Crowe in a scene from "Unhinged." (Solstice Studios and Ingenious Media via AP)

Though the results for “Unhinged” would be meager by pre-pandemic standards, the debut showed that more consumers are willing to return to theaters. But it will be slow going for some time. Cinema owners like AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc. have yet to reopen many locations. And they’re limiting ticket sales within their auditoriums to maintain social distancing, effectively capping revenue.

Plus, “Unhinged” was never expected to produce the kind of sales that come from big summer movies like Walt Disney Co.’s “Mulan.” The first big test will be “Tenet,” a major Warner Bros. film that’s set for Sept. 3 release in the U.S.

Revenue per location provides clues to consumer demand, taking into account that so many multiplexes remain closed. “Unhinged” produced an average of $2,227 in ticket sales on that basis. By comparison, the industry leader one year ago was “Angel Has Fallen,” an action film that debuted with sales of $21.4 million and a per-location average of $6,507.

Theater operators have tried to reassure the moviegoing public by adopting new safety protocols that include more-frequent cleaning and mask-wearing.

“Unhinged” features Oscar-winner Crowe in an R-rated story about road rage. The film cost about $33 million to make, according to, plus additional millions to market. It’s recommended by just 50% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

In China, where movie theaters have reopened since July 20 with reduced capacity, Huayi Brothers Media Corp.’s war film “The Eight Hundred” became the first blockbuster in 2020, Comscore said. That contributed to most of IMAX Global Network’s $7.5 million box office this weekend, 2.5 times last weekend’s number.