In Warner Brother's latest film, The Accountant, Ben Affleck stars as an autistic certified public accountant who makes his living cooking the books for dangerous organizations. When a U.S. Treasury agent starts to close in, the CPA turns dangerous and the body count starts to build.
Hollywood makes millions from such unlikely action stars. And it has helped Time Warner's (TWX) film studio to quietly build a winning streak at the box office.
Five of its past nine films have generated more than $100 million in box office receipts in the domestic market, according to tracking site Box Office Mojo, a rare streak for any Hollywood studio.
The Accountant could join that list, after opening No. 1 at the box office this weekend with $24.7 million in ticket sales, ahead of the $15 million to $20 million that industry experts forecast for the movie, acBcording to ox Office Mojo.
In September Warner Brothers released Sully, the story of the miracle landing of a US Airways plane in the Hudson River in 2009, made for a relatively small budget of $60 million. After staying No. 1 for two weeks, the film has generated more than $118 million in domestic ticket sales.
The success streak is a big turnaround from last year, when the studio ended 2015 with one of the biggest flops in its recent history in director Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, the retelling of the Moby Dick tale. Warner spent more than $200 million to produce and market the film, which generated less than $94 million in worldwide ticket sales. (Studios generally collect about half the box office revenue in the U.S. and less in some overseas markets.)
"Despite a very slow fall movie season that is down around 15% from last year, Warner's on a hard-earned and well-deserved roll," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at consumer measurement firm comScore.
Earlier this year, Warner Brothers had a surprise blockbuster in Suicide Squad, an offbeat action film based on a motley superhero team from sister company DC Comics. The film, which cost around $350 million to make and market, flew past industry expectations after opening on Aug. 3 with $133 million at the domestic box office. It stayed No. 1 at the box office for three straight weeks and is still playing in more than 600 theaters after 11 weeks, with domestic ticket sales of nearly $324 million.
Warner also had good-sized hits with The Legend of Tarzan, Central Intelligence and The Conjuring 2, all of which passed $100 million in domestic ticket sales. Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart comedy Central Intelligence was made for less than $50 million and has generated more than $216 million in worldwide ticket sales. Horror film The Conjuring 2 was made for less than $40 million and has generated $320 million in worldwide ticket sales.
Degaradebian figures Warner Brothers' box office luck likely will continue into November. That's when the studio is scheduled to release Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first of an upcoming series of films based on the companion books to author J.K. Rowling's uber-successful Harry Potter books.
Despite the positive box office results, Time Warner shares were off 34 cents Monday morning to $79.21. Shares are up nearly 22.5% this year.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the companies mentioned.