Early Weekend Estimates: Mortal Kombat & Demon Slayer Pacing for Combined $35M+, Setting Pandemic Records for ‘R’ Movies

Photo Credits: Warner Bros. ("Mortal Kombat"); Sony Pictures / FUNimation ("Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train")

Saturday Update: Domestic box office recovery continues.

Three weeks after Warner Bros. set a new pandemic-era record with its Godzilla vs. Kong debut, the studio’s latest day-and-date release, Mortal Kombat, achieved $9.03 million from 3,073 locations on opening day Friday. That’s the second best opening day gross of the last 13 months, trailing only GvK‘s $9.7 million Wednesday launch.

Perhaps more notably, it is by far the best single-day take of any R-rated film during the pandemic. Kombat achieved the mark by a wide margin, surpassing Nobody‘s $2.51 million first day one month ago.

The video game adaptation isn’t alone in delivering good news for the industry this weekend, though. Funimation reports Demon Slayer: The Movie earned $9.5 million from 1,598 locations across Thursday night and Friday shows combined.

The studio is reporting only a single-day gross, which would ordinarily be in line with pre-pandemic standards of studios including preview grosses in the opening day count. Unofficially, Slayer scored very strong sellout numbers on Thursday night — meaning Kombat was technically the top film on Friday.

Even with a split Thursday-Friday consideration, though, Demon Slayer still easily generated the second and third best R-rated single-day earnings during the pandemic.

Regardless of the splits, this tandem is proving just how well the theatrical rebound is progressing in North America. Even with seating capacities in mind and many theaters still closed in Canada and the United States, the ability for two R-rated films with some crossover audience to exceed expectations speaks volumes.

How the weekend plays out from here depends on a number of factors. Both movies are fan-driven, but Demon Slayer is a virtual lock to see a sharp “decline” from the $9.5 million figure come Saturday. Anime releases in this market tend to be quite front-loaded, while the combination of Thursday and Friday grosses skews all comparisons since the former was effectively its opening day.

Kombat, meanwhile, is also likely to be a bit more fan-heavy early in its run. Sales for the weekend look very healthy, though. In all, Kombat should easily clear $20 million (upward of $24 million is feasible), while Demon Slayer‘s projections are a bit more volatile. We’re currently sticking with our previous forecast of $15 million (with a high-end range up to $18 million) for the import by the end of Sunday.

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