‘Nobody’ Opening To No. 1 With ‘A-’ CinemaScore; Director Ilya Naishuller On Redefining Action Genre With Bob Odenkirk Pic – Update

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Anthony D'Alessandro
·5 min read
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Updated with Saturday AM B.O.: There’s a great axiom when it comes to success in Hollywood; a saying which remains true through good times and bad, even at a moment when streaming is stepping on theatrical’s feet, and that is, “Talent rules.”

Such talent is Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller, whose Universal action movie Nobody literally turns the genre on its head.

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Sure, it had a John Wick sensibility in its screenplay and is even penned by that franchise’s creator, Derek Kolstad. But shot-wise, angle-wise, and protagonist wise, Nobody shakes up the action space in an invigorating way. The movie headlines 58 year-old SNL alum-Mr. Show architect-turned-leading man wisenheimer Bob Odenkirk, who shows sublimely here that one is never, ever too old to be an action star.

At a time when Los Angeles and NYC theaters are looking to get back on their feet with a fresh feature, along comes Nobody. According to Saturday AM B.O. figures Nobody made $2.5M on Friday on its way to No. 1 with $7M, and audiences are excited about it, giving the R-rated pic an A- Cinemascore and 83% positive/69% recommend from Screen Engine/Comscore exits. Men showed up at 63% yesterday, 72% over 25. LA, NYC, Phoenix and Chicago are the best markets for the movie. Overall, Nobody is leading a B.O. frame with $19.7M, +6% over last weekend. Nobody‘s B.O. easily pushes Disney’s fourth weekend of Raya and the Last Dragon to second with a $950K Friday and $3.3M weekend, -34% for a $28.2M total. Nobody’s debut bests the openings of Liam Neeson’s pandemic titles The Honest Thief ($4.1M) and The Marksman ($3.1M) (keep in mind No. 2 chain Regal is still closed until April 1). Already, Nobody has made $3.5M from the Middle East and Naishuller’s homeland Russia.

Naishuller spills it all to us today on Crew Call, from his early love of film from watching pirated tapes in the 1980s to his days working on set with two-time, Oscar-nominated The Mission and Killing Fields filmmaker Roland Joffé, to making his first-person action movie Hardcore Henry with Timur Bekmambetov’s backing and emotional support.

Listen below for our intriguing discussion with Naishuller about getting Nobody off the ground, and turning Bob Odenkirk into an action hero:

Hardcore Henry soaked up 3 1/2 years of Naishuller’s life, shot for 123 days, besting the production days of even the Russo Brothers’ Captain America: Civil War. The movie, which starred Tim Roth and Haley Bennett, was intended to replicate that of a first-person shooter videogame, but on the big screen and in a live-action format.

STX, as Deadline first told you, bought the movie for $10M at TIFF. Naishuller was always told it would do John Wick numbers at the box office. But even he knew the novelty of his own film, and that it would divide audiences. The movie opened to $5.1M, dropped 72% in its second weekend, and ended its stateside run at $9.2M.

“I made it for the 15-year-old version of myself,” he tells us, “We took something that had not been done before and made it watchable.”

“It didn’t do well in theaters, but I know from Twitter how well (it did),” the director continues, “I have people saying to me that they’ve seen it seven times in theaters. If that isn’t a hate it-or-love it movie, a definition of a cult classic, than what is?”

Naishuller gives a shoutout to his WME agent Mike Simpson for keeping the faith in him after Hardcore died. Naishuller told his agent that he wanted his next project to star a comedian with a shotgun playing against type that didn’t have too high a budget, giving him room to be creative. Naishuller received a script with Bob Odenkirk attached, 87North producing, and written by Kolstad with a note that said “Ask and you shall receive.”

Naishuller flew out to LA with a 20-page presentation, to pitch himself for the job when the project was stationed at STX. His sensibility was a South Korean thriller by a Russian director with an internally conflicted protagonist. STX passed on making the movie, and Naishuller flew back to Russia quite upset.

As Nobody producer Kelly McCormick told Mike Fleming in his recent interview about Nobody, “They (STX) allowed us to take it out. We were making our deal at Universal, and I sent it over to Peter Cramer, who read it within a week and said, ‘There’s something here, how soon can we go?’ He actually wanted us to go into production sooner than we were able to.”

That’s when Naishuller received a phone call from McCormick with the good news. He wound up delivering the film under-cost and before its scheduled wrap in 34 days time.

In regards to seeing the film released at a pivotal time during the pandemic as theaters are coming back to life, Naishuller says he was “overjoyed” every time he heard that Nobody was set for a theatrical release and not sold to a streamer.

“I’ve learned a while back my job is to make the best damn movie with what I have, and the people who are in marketing, that’s their specialty,” says the director.

The fact that Universal gave Nobody a theatrical release and shelled out for a trailer during the Super Bowl speaks volumes to Naishuller about their faith in the film. The pic is currently 80% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes — and critics aren’t always fans of action movies.

Naishuller is often asked how he’s been weathering the pandemic.

“I’m going to keep my mouth shut because I have nothing to complain about,” beams the filmmaker, “I feel bad about feeling good.”

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