It's no secret that the box office is not exactly booming right now. With the pandemic still a very real problem across the United States, theaters in many areas remain closed, and as a result the amount of tickets being sold generally isn't something that studios want to brag about. That being said, we always want to celebrate the silver linings when we can, and the arrival of John Lee Hancock's The Little Things, starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto, allows us to do just that.
While the film didn't exactly become a blockbuster smash since Friday, it can now claim to the record of being the R-rated movie with the biggest opening since the start of the pandemic.
Per Deadline, The Little Things only played in 2,171 theaters in North America, and it only grossed about $4.8 million, that money was enough for it to take home a notable title. We haven't exactly seen a great number of R-rated movies hit the big screen since last March, but the serial killer drama did indeed outpace them all. Previously this specific record belonged to Thomas Bezucha's neo-western Let Him Go, which made $4 million when it opened the first weekend of November, but the team of Washington-Malek-Leto was able to beat out the reteaming of Man of Steel's Kevin Costner and Diane Lane by about $800,000.
What is particularly interesting about The Little Things' box office performance isn't so much the record that it set, however, but how it set any record at all. When it was announced at the end of last year that Warner Bros. was going to be releasing their entire 2021 slate day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max, industry doomsayers predicted that the move would totally crush the big screen experience as audiences would be content to take advantage of the streaming service's convenience. The amount of money that it was able to generate suggests otherwise.
To directly compare it to the aforementioned Let Him Go, that movie, released by Universal Pictures' Focus Features, did not have a simultaneous digital release, and made less money than the serial killer-centric thriller. Obviously there are differences in marketing and demand to consider, but what stands out is that there is still a draw to see The Little Things in a theater.
In the new film, both written and directed by John Lee Hancock, Denzel Washington plays an aging sheriff's deputy working in a small town north of Los Angeles who is called to the city on a run to pick up some evidence . While at his old precinct, he becomes aware of a string of murders that he believes may be linked to an unsolved case from years ago, and convinces the young hot shot detective running things (Rami Malek) to let him tag along on the investigation. Before long they set their sights on a strange appliance repairman named Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), and while they are convinced that he is their guy, his slipperiness has him constantly one step ahead.