'Bourne' Sequel Spies Solid Start

Despite Matt Damon’s long absence from the role of Jason Bourne, the spy character and its franchise still resonate with moviegoers. ENLARGE
Despite Matt Damon’s long absence from the role of Jason Bourne, the spy character and its franchise still resonate with moviegoers. Photo: Universal Pictures

Slightly down at the box office may be the new normal for Hollywood sequels.

“Jason Bourne” opened to an estimated $ 60 million in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, a solid start for the latest entry in the spy series from Universal Pictures.

Executives at Comcast Corp. CMCSA -0.90 % ’s studio said they were pleased with the result, though it was 13% lower than the $ 69.3 million opening of “The Bourne Ultimatum” in 2007, when ticket prices were 27% less. That was the last movie in the series to star Matt Damon and to be directed by Paul Greengrass, who reunited for the new film.

In 2012, when it seemed unlikely that the duo would ever come back, Universal attempted a “Bourne” spinoff starring Jeremy Renner, but that movie was unsuccessful, opening to $ 38 million and ultimately grossed a modest $ 113 million.

“Jason Bourne” comes after many sequels this summer have had openings more than 15% below their predecessor movies, including “Star Trek: Beyond,” “Ice Age: Collision Course,” “Now You See Me 2” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

Studios accustomed to boasting about sequels that perform better than prior films in the franchise have instead been comparing how much or little they are down.

Among the handful of recent sequels that have grossed more than their predecessors are “Finding Dory” and “The Purge: Election Year.”

With an average opening night audience grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, “Jason Bourne” appears poised for a healthy run driven by audience word-of-mouth, despite mixed critical reviews.

Sixty percent of attendees were over 35 years old, and the top reason they turned out was affection for the “Bourne” franchise, according to exit polls. It indicates that the spy character remains resonant despite Mr. Damon’s long absence from the role.

The first movie in the series, “The Bourne Identity,” was released in 2002.

Overseas, the $ 120 million production had a solid start as well, grossing $ 50.1 million in 46 foreign markets. It was the highest ever opening for the franchise in several major countries including South Korea, the U.K. and Australia.

“Bourne” performed better than pre-release surveys had indicated and it wasn’t the only new film this weekend to do so. “Bad Moms,” a raunchy comedy from the independent studio STX Entertainment, opened to $ 23.4 million—a good start for the $ 20 million production, particularly since R-rated comedies tend to have long box office lives. Eighty-two percent of its opening weekend audience was female.

The teen thriller “Nerve,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. LGF 1.22 % , has grossed $ 15 million since its Wednesday debut.

Write to Ben Fritz at [email protected]

WSJ.com: US Business

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