“The Woman King” has found its throne at the box office.
The Sony release is drumming up a projected $18 million opening from 3,765 locations, in line with most analysts’ estimates heading into the weekend. The epic also benefited from landing some premium format auditoriums, such as Imax, lending an additional boost to revenue.
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Though that doesn’t necessarily qualify as a grand opening, it’s a solid start for the action film, which carries a $50 million production budget and has no ties to existing franchises. What’s more, it’s more than enough for “The Woman King” to top box office charts on a slow weekend with few rival releases.
Co-financed by eOne, “The Woman King” started to draw great buzz when it made a splashy debut at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Reviews have been largely glowing since, with the film currently holding a mighty 94% approval rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. In his review for Variety, chief film critic Peter Debruge wrote that “the movie embraces the codes of mid-20th-century costume dramas: It’s stirring but slightly stodgy, designed to stand the test of time.”
Audience reactions are proving to be even more auspicious though, with “The Woman King” landing the maximum “A+” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating ecstatic approval from general moviegoers. Sony hopes that strong word-of-mouth and a landscape bereft of surefire tentpoles will benefit the film as it continues to play through the fall.
“The Woman King” stars and is produced by Viola Davis, with Gina Prince-Bythewood directing. The features tells the true story of a powerful general (Davis) of the Agojie, an all-female military that fights to protect Dahomey, a West African kingdom. Along with Davis, the film stars John Boyega, Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim.
Also opening this weekend is A24’s “Pearl,” a Ti West-directed horror prequel to his “X,” released earlier this year. The Technicolor-aping period film looks to land in third place, drawing $3.3 million from 2,935 locations. That’s about three-quarters of what “X” grossed in its March debut — the predecessor went on to draw in $13 million worldwide.
The numbers for “Pearl” are rather humble, but the Mia Goth vehicle was filmed in a secret back-to-back production with “X,” which carried an itsy-bitsy reported $1 million budget before marketing. It’d be understandable to presume that “Pearl” was a similarly modest financial endeavor — a pathway to a final $10 million gross with video-on-demand sales on the horizon is probably a success story for the horror film.
Searchlight Pictures’ “See How They Run” is shooting for fourth place on the charts. The Sam Rockwell-Saoirse Ronan two-hander drew $1.08 million from 2,404 locations on Friday, on its way to landing near estimates of $2.7 million. Those aren’t exactly splendid — or successful — numbers for the whodunnit, but it’s commendable that the film found its way into theaters at all, as parent company Disney has been wont to send Searchlight productions to Hulu as of late.
Also opening in wide release, “Running the Bases,” a faith-based drama with some baseball in it, found itself in 1,080 theaters. The UP2U Films release is projecting a $510,000 gross for the weekend. “God’s Country,” a Thandiwe Newton-starring western that launched at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is projecting a $262,000 gross from 785 theaters. Kevin Smith’s “Clerks III,” released by Fathom Events, continues to play 800 locations after debuting earlier this week. It should expand its domestic gross to nearly $2 million through Sunday.
There’s also “Confess, Fletch,” a new adaptation of Gregory Mcdonald’s mystery novel series that stars Jon Hamm. After “Orphan: First Kill,” “Fletch” marks another hybrid release experiment for Paramount, which has debuted the whodunnit on video-on-demand while also bowing it in 516 locations. Though the studio hasn’t released home entertainment numbers, the theatrical results weren’t pretty. The film grossed $96,000 on its opening day, marking a rough $186 per location average.
Landing in second place, 20th Century Studios’ “Barbarian” earned $1.96 million on Friday, down 49% from its opening day last week. That’s a pretty impressive hold, especially one with a middling “C+” grade through Cinema Score. Horror releases tend to unfold in front-loaded box office performances. However, online chit-chat around “Barbarian” has been strong between genre fans and the film continues to draw eyeballs. It should expand its domestic gross beyond $20 million through Sunday.
Fifth place will be a tight race, but Sony’s “Bullet Train” is the favorite for now, with a projected $2.6 million haul in its seventh weekend. The Brad Pitt action vehicle’s domestic gross will hit $96 million after the weekend, slowly but surely crawling to that coveted $100 million mark.
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