Atomic Blonde (2018): Charlize Theron as Action Star (Female Bond?)

Atomic Blond, directed by David Leitch and released by Focus Features, performed below expectations with $18.5 million from 3,304 locations.

But the opening weekend result is still solid considering its modest $30 million budget.

It’s also one of the largest launches for Focus Features, behind only “Insidious Chapter 3” ($22.7 million); “London Has Fallen” ($21.6 million); and “Burn After Reading” ($19.1 million).

The R-rated spy thriller has been compared to a female “Bond” or “John Wick.”

Its stuntman-turned-director David Leitch will next helm the “Deadpool” sequel. “Blonde’s” launch is bigger than the first “Wick,” which opened in fall 2014 to $14.4 million, but less than its sequel ($30.4 million).

In “Atomic Blonde,” Theron plays a hardcore action star named Lorraine Broughton.

The rest of the cast includes James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Sofia Boutella.

Focus shows commitment to putting women in and front and behind the camera with recent releases including “The Beguiled” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

“There’s always a thought process behind ‘Let’s see some diversity. This is definitely a movie where Charlize takes center stage. She can fight men, and she can beat men, so it’s a really empowering movie to go see.”

“Atomic Blonde” will land just below the summer comedy event, “Girls Trip.” Universal’s release is posting $20.1 million during its second weekend from 2,648 theaters, for only a 36% drop from last weekend