A SCENE from the film Uncharted

LOS ANGELES — Sony’s long-in-the-works video game adaptation Uncharted collected $44 million over the weekend, enough to lead North American box office charts and solidify Tom Holland’s star power.

The big-budget action adventure has been positioned as a key test of Mr. Holland’s bankability outside of his blockbuster success as Spider-Man. Uncharted has received mixed reviews, at best, so it’s safe to assume the 25-year-old British actor had a healthy hand in selling tickets. It also helps that Uncharted is rated PG-13 and based on one of the most popular video games.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, who previously led Tom Hardy’s comic book tentpole Venom to box office glory, Uncharted is expected to earn $52 million through Monday’s President’s Day holiday. It’s an impressive start in COVID times, but it doesn’t mean the film has an easy path to profitability. Uncharted carries a $120-million price tag, so international ticket sales will be key in getting out of the red.

To that end, Uncharted crucially landed a release date in China, the world’s biggest theatrical market. Visual effects-heavy action-adventures, like Uncharted, tend to play well in China. But recently the country’s censors have been ultra-selective about letting Hollywood movies screen in its movie theaters, and when the Chinese government does approve non-local product, it’s been a real mixed bag at the box office. So, the film’s success in China remains to be seen. Since Uncharted isn’t opening in China until March 14, piracy could be a concern.

Outside of China, Uncharted has been a favorite. Already, the movie has earned roughly $55 million at the international box office and has crossed $100 million globally.

“This is an excellent opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Action adventures based on video games are big movies, and this weekend’s figure is nearly double the average for the genre.” He adds, “Budgets run high, so Uncharted needs to connect in every market. So far, it is doing that.”

Uncharted follows the globe-trotting treasure hunter Nathan Drake and his wisecracking partner Sully (Mark Wahlberg, who was once attached to play Nathan Drake and since aged out of the role) as they embark on a death-defying quest to uncover the greatest treasure never found. — Reuters