Box Office: ‘Creed III’ Rings Up $22 Million Opening Day

Creed III” is set to knock out “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” for the top spot on domestic charts.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release took in an impressive $22 million opening day, a figure that includes $5.45 million from preview screenings earlier in the week. Playing in 4,007 locations, the “Rocky” spinoff is now projecting an opening north of $50 million, exceeding initial expectations that had the drama pegged at an opening in the $30 millions. It would also mark a franchise high across all the “Creed” films and the entire “Rocky” series, rocketing beyond the three-day debuts of the first “Creed” ($29 million) and its 2018 sequel ($35 million).

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The film’s profile has been boosted by stellar reviews, landing a 92% from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audience reactions are also encouraging, with an “A-” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating strong enthusiasm among the first round of ticket buyers. The auspicious praise for “Creed III” should help in the weeks ahead, as the film looks likely to justify its $75 million production budget.

Beyond its own success, “Creed III” also marks a win for theaters, with Amazon, the new owner of MGM, re-embracing theatrical distribution and being rewarded with the company’s highest opening weekend ever.

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman praised “Creed III” a “sports drama that feels like a thriller,” writing that “Jordan shows dramatic finesse in his staging of the Adonis/Dame relationship, showcasing it as a broken brotherhood that speaks to larger disruptions — the tug between loyalty and violence in dispossessed childhoods.”

Helmed by star Michael B. Jordan in his feature directorial debut, “Creed III” finds Jordan’s Adonis Creed, the son of “Rocky” fighter Apollo Creed, facing off against his childhood friend Damien, played by Jonathan Majors. The film’s cast also includes Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris and Florian Munteanu. Original “Rocky” franchise star Sylvester Stallone isn’t appearing in this installment due to creative differences, but he remains attached as a producer.

Looking to land in third place on domestic charts, Crunchyroll’s “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Swordsmith Village” earned $4.1 million from 1,753 locations. The sequel, composed of two finale episodes and an extended episode of a new arc from the anime series, is projecting an opening in the low eight figures.

The series’ predecessor, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train,” was one of the few bright spots during the COVID-blighted box office at the start of 2021. Its North American opening weekend notched $19.5 million, a record debut for a non-English language feature. Its $47.7 million domestic gross boosted its staggering global total of $506.5 million. Fans seem to be less enthused by this entry, though the film earned a positive “B+” rating on Cinema Score.

Also opening this weekend, “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” will likely land outside the top five after earning $1.073 million on Friday from 2,168 locations. The Guy Ritchie-directed caper was once set to be released by STX Films, but the struggling banner was acquired by Najafi Companies in 2022, stalling theatrical plans for the remaining STX slate. Lionsgate eventually came aboard to handle domestic distribution for “Operation Fortune.”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” looks to fall to second place after earning $3.1 million on Friday. The superhero sequel could drop more than 60% once again, after suffering a record plummet for a Marvel release in its second weekend. The domestic tally for “Ant-Man 3” should push beyond $185 million through Sunday.

Cocaine Bear” is projected to fall to fourth place in its sophomore outing, falling 54% for a $10.6 million haul. The comedy-thriller should reach a $40 million domestic tally through the weekend.

Lionsgate’s “Jesus Revolution” looks to round out the top five. The religious film is projecting an $8.5 million gross for the weekend, which would bring its domestic total to $30 million.

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