The Rhythm Section

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the rhythm section
© 2020 Paramount

Title: The Rhythm Section
Directed By: Reed Morano
Written By: Mark Burnell
Release Date: January 31, 2020
Domestic Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Richard Brake, Raza Jaffrey, Max Casella
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Action, Mystery


Box Office Information

  • Budget: $50 Million
  • Financed by: Paramount Pictures / Global Road Entertainment
  • Domestic Box Office Gross: $5,437,971
  • Overseas Box Office Gross: $545,072


In The Rhythm Section (2020), an ordinary woman, Stephanie Patrick, seeks revenge against those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her entire family three years ago.

Having discovered that the crash was not an accident, Stephanie enters a dark, complicated world – seeking revenge on those responsible.

This journey takes her on a path of self-destruction – with Stepanie becoming a drug-addicted sex worker – but eventually finding her own redemption.

Official Trailer



The screenplay for The Rhythm Section was written by Mark Burnell and based on his novel with the same name.

Directed by Reed Morano (I Think We’re Alone Now, The Handmaid’s Tale)  – Paramount released (with a little help from the now-defunct Global Road Entertainment) The Rhythm Section in the United States on January 31, 2020.

The movie got largely mixed reviews, with critics praising Lively’s performance, but struggling with a mundane and hackneyed plotline. Not really what theatre-goers were pining for in the midst of a global pandemic…

The film bombed in almighty spectacular style – with the worst wide-opening weekend of all time for a movie played at over 3,000 theatres.

The Rhythm Section Box Office Numbers

With a production budget of some $50 million and a domestic box office 0.1 times the production budget, The Rhythm Section took $5,437,971 domestically and grossed $545,072 overseas at the box office.

The Rhythm Section played to 3,049 theatres and took $2,715,384 (49.9% of total gross) in its opening weekend.

The film played to a total of 3,049 theatres domestically and took a domestic share of some 90.9%.

Having ranked tenth in its opening weekend, The Rhythm Section dropped to sixteenth in its second weekend – running for a total of 4 weeks, with an average weekend domestic gross of $1,359,492 based on an 2.0 weeks average run per theatre.

The Rhythm Section was released to a total of 2 countries internationally, with the main markets being the United Kingdon (with the largest opening of $226,728) with a lifetime gross of $459,841, and Spain $85,231.

It’s a Wrap

There is no doubting that Blake Lively is a bankable actress – with the former Gossip Girl star having the likes of The Shallows (2016) – ($119,100,758 worldwide) and The Town (2010) – ($154,026,136 worldwide) on her resume. This is a woman who even has a cupcake designed in her likeness.

But not even Lively could save this film from itself.

Originally projected to gross in the $9-12 million range, playing at 3,049 theatres – it managed a meager $2,715,384 opening weekend – in line with newly revised projections – having managed only $235,000 from Thursday night previews.

With the second weekend bringing only $1,014,767 in theatre receipts – and a combined total of $55,605 for the third and fourth weekends – the movie was pulled from 98% of theatres.

This essentially meant two things:

1) The movie took the prize of having the largest third-weekend theatre drop in history: surpassing The Darkest Minds (2018) record of 2,679 theatre pulls;

2) a huge loss in the order of $30-40 million.

In response to the loss, Eon producers, Broccoli, and Wilson were quoted as saying:

We are obviously disappointed with the box office, but proud of Reed and our movie and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Blake’s performance.

Where did it all go wrong?

There were rumors of excessive pre-production costs and confusion – driven in part by the departure of Stuart Ford and the subsequent arrival of Donald Tang at IM Global.

The adaptation of Mark Burnell’s script was also problematic – leading to a mundane plotline that couldn’t be fixed – given the existing challenges in pre-production.

The movie also seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis – not sure if it was a slow burn or an action thriller. Paramount and Eon just couldn’t align – and as the movie entered post-production there were further clashes between Morano, Lively, and Eon.

In the final analysis, it appears that a perfect storm of a lack of identity coupled with a mundane and uninspiring plotline culminated in a movie that did not resonate with theatre-goers.

Of course, there is also the not-so-small matter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All in, this left The Rhythm Section to make history for all the wrong reasons.

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