Dev Patel's Monkey Man Looks To Pull A John Wick At The Box Office

Dev Patel has been a well-known, majorly respected actor in Hollywood for years dating back to his star-making performance in "Slumdog Millionaire." Now, more than 15 years later, Patel is stepping behind the camera for his feature directorial debut "Monkey Man," a movie that also sees him taking an action star turn. While "Monkey Man" was originally going to go directly to Netflix, Universal Pictures and "Get Out" director Jordan Peele rescued it and will be giving it a major theatrical release. Can this film become the next big original breakout action hit?

"Monkey Man" hits theaters next weekend and is currently eyeing an opening between $16 and $25 million, per Box Office Pro. That's an encouraging start given that Netflix originally spent around $30 million on the production. It's unclear what Universal had to pay to get the rights but it feels safe to assume it's probably around $40 million or less (before marketing). Given that the box office is down roughly 9% compared to 2023 up to this point, this is money theaters are going to be happy to have. It's certainly better for all involved to have it on the big screen rather than a Netflix title that risks being lost to time after a few weeks.

Patel's film will open alongside 20th Century Studios' horror prequel "The First Omen." The two films are, for what it's worth, likely going for slightly different audiences so they should be able to co-exist just fine. "The First Omen" is looking to open somewhere between $8 and $13 million. Universal will also be contending with the monster that is "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," which will be in its second weekend. But again, this should work as a solid bit of counterprogramming. There is room for more than one movie on any given weekend so long as the overlap in core audience isn't too extreme.

Can Monkey Man tap into the John Wick audience?

"Monkey Man" centers on Kid (Patel) who makes a meager living in an underground fight club where he is beaten bloody nightly while wearing a gorilla mask. After years of suppressed rage, he finds a way to infiltrate the city's sinister elite who were responsible for a great tragedy he suffered as a child. He then proceeds to unleash a bloody campaign of retribution against the men who wronged him. The film takes place entirely in India and has a mostly Indian cast. Sharlto Copley, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, and Makarand Deshpande co-star.

This movie has an awful lot going for it. For one, the trailers have sold action that mirrors "John Wick." While it would be unfair to compare this movie to the popular Keanu Reeves franchise, it's not hard to see why the same core audience would be on board. "Monkey Man" has been met with stellar reviews since its premiere at SXSW. You can read /News's 8 out of 10 review right here. It also doesn't hurt that Jordan Peele, whose name carries a lot of cache with moviegoers, is attached as a producer and Universal gets to put his name on the poster.

Speaking of "John Wick," the first movie in the franchise opened to $14 million against a $30 million budget back in 2014. Sound familiar? It finished its theatrical run with $86 million. If "Monkey Man" can pull in similar numbers, one imagines Universal would be happy with their investment. If things go well, the film probably wouldn't have an issue doing $100 million worldwide. This would be a major win for those who value the theatrical experience, original cinema, and diversity in mainstream American movies.

"Monkey Man" hits theaters on April 5, 2024.