Box Office: Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ Serves $6.2 Million Opening Day

“Challengers” netted a $6.2 million opening day from 3,477 North American theaters, a figure that includes $1.9 million from preview screenings. Amazon MGM Studios’ love-triangle drama is set to match industry projections for a $15 million debut. The tennis film also gets extra revenue from tickets for premium large-format auditoriums, including some Imax screens.

The Zendaya starrer will easily launch above the competition to claim the top spot on domestic charts — not small potatoes for an original, R-rated drama in the age of studio IP addiction. But “Challengers” does carry a $55 million production budget, so it’ll have to keep rallying into the summer months to score a profit in theaters. Reviews have been stellar, while early ticket buyers lean positive with audience survey firm Cinema Score tallying a “B+” grade. Amazon MGM has good buzz on its side for the weeks ahead.

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“Challengers” stars Zendaya as Tashi Duncan, a tennis prodigy who turns to coaching after an injury and finds herself caught between the egos of her husband, played by Mike Faist, and ex-lover, played by Josh O’Connor. The film is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who has already set his next film, “After the Hunt” with Julia Roberts, at Amazon MGM.

Hoping for a second place finish, Lionsgate is opening Kingdom Story Company’s “Unsung Hero,” a Christian musician biopic about the formation of the pop duo For King & Country. Group member Joel Smallbone co-directs with Richard Ramsey. It earned $3.6 million on opening day from 2,832 theaters and is looking at a debut around $8 million. The film was produced at a slim budget of $6 million. Reviews are mediocre, but the target audience for the faith-based film loves it, per the “A+” grade on Cinema Score.

Also opening this weekend, Roadside Attractions’ is putting “Boy Kills World,” an R-rated beat-em-up starring Bill Skarsgård, in 1,993 theaters. Moritz Mohr directs the film, which debuted at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival and has since earned so-so reviews. It’s looking at an opening outside the top five, likely not cracking $2 million. A “B-” grade on Cinema Score doesn’t exactly portend extended play.

Also contending for second place, Legendary Entertainment’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is staying relevant in its fifth weekend. The Warner Bros. release earned $1.7 million on Friday, down 25% from one week ago. The monster mash will push beyond a $180 million domestic gross this weekend, still just behind Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda 4” for the title of second-highest-grossing North American release of the year so far.

A24’s “Civil War” also has a shot at the top three, with industry rivals projecting $6.6 million for the three-day frame. The Alex Garland-directed dystopian thriller has now cracked $50 million in North America. Globally, it’s already one of A24’s top five grossers ever and will certainly finish above “Lady Bird” ($80 million) and “Hereditary” ($81 million). The indie banner’s top two are the horror pic “Talk to Me” ($92 million) and Oscar winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once” ($111 million).

Universal’s vampire film “Abigail” looks to fall to fifth, projecting a 51% drop from its opening weekend. The horror play is looking a 10-day domestic tally of $18 million. With a production budget of $28 million, the film is coming in behind expectations.

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