“Wanted,” an American studio movie directed by Russia’s Timur Bekmambetov and starring Angelina Jolie, beat box office records at its worldwide premiere, Universal Pictures said on Monday.
The action film took $84.1 million in worldwide receipts June 26-27, Vadim Ivanov, the studio’s commercial director, told a news conference.
Ivanov said the story of an unusual transformation of miserable office clerk Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) into a skillful assassin had the largest box office sales in Russia, the U.K. and South Korea with $10.8 million, $8 million and $6.7 million respectively.
“This is the best possible start for Universal Pictures in Russia and for Timur Bekmambetov,” he said.
Kazakh-born Bekmambetov said: “I am glad our film became No. 1 picture at world box offices. We have not even dreamed about it.”
Based on the comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, the $150 million picture is filled with eye-popping special effects like bending bullets, slow-motion and sped-up sequences, with which Bekmambetov distinguished himself in his supernatural Russian-language thrillers “Night Patrol” and “Day Patrol.”
Jolie plays Fox, who recruits the dormant “born assassin” Gibson to replace his murdered father, the top killer at an elite order of paid killers. The movie also stars Morgan Freeman as head of the ancient brotherhood of assassins.
Bekmambetov thanked Russian audiences for going to the cinema on Friday instead of the previous scheduled premiere date of June 26, when the Russian national soccer team lost 3-0 in the quarterfinals of Euro-2008 to Spain.
He also said initial box office sales were not “the end of the game yet, but the first time.”
But he said he expected “the picture to be a springboard for future films,” his own and those of other Russian directors.
“... A precedent will be set to show that movies can speak Russian to the whole world.”