After three weekends atop the domestic box office, Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong finally has significant competition on its hands for April’s penultimate frame as the studio opens its own Mortal Kombat reboot in tandem with Sony / FUNimation’s domestic import of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.
Prior to the former most of those three films, this weekend seemed like it might be a fairly quiet one. Forecasts were considerably modest on the Kombat remake (which moved back one week from a prior April 16 target opening), while Demon Slayer‘s stateside release had only begun to appear on industry tracking radars and there has been point of comparison for what an anime release could do mid-pandemic.
Given the monster-versus-monster’s box office success, though, models for Kombat have shifted in some significant ways. Likewise, stronger-than-expected pre-sales for Demon Slayer are indicative of a quick burst, niche breakout among fans akin to Dragon Ball Super: Broly. That film posted a $20.2 million five-day opening back in January 2019. Internal models show Slayer outpacing Kombat‘s advance tickets by significant margins in select areas, but the latter is almost assured to have a wider spread of late purchases and walk-up business as the weekend progresses.
While some may argue the R rating hinders Demon Slayer and its brand strength in comparison to an established franchise with younger appeal, there’s something to be said for the fact that it became Japan’s biggest box office hit of all time last year… during a pandemic. The film has earned over $400 million globally to date, making it the highest earning anime film and Japanese film in history.
Like Slayer, the Mortal Kombat is courting a fan base of its own. Wider appeal among general audiences should help it prove less front-loaded than Demon Slayer past the initial days of release, although a similar R rating and current (as of Thursday evening) 56 percent Rotten Tomatoes score may combine to make the film less of a broader commercial draw than Godzilla vs. Kong. The scattershot (but mostly underwhelming) history of video game adaptations is also a factor in current forecasts.
Strong social media presences are also to thank for what’s set to be a banner weekend as R-rated films go during the pandemic. FUNimation has a strong track record when it comes to rallying anime fans and translating that to big pre-sales corridors, while the red band Kombat trailer itself was one of the most viewed of all time.
Another plus for Demon Slayer: no streaming availability until an electronic sell-through period begins on June 22 (pre-orders start April 26).
So far, Nobody holds the “R” crown with its $6.8 million debut in late March — a mark both of these films will easily surpass. The bottom line, however, is that pandemic-era models have no blueprint for this coming weekend, a common reality when a major studio releases a new film these days. With two fan-driven franchises in play for very similar niche target audiences and limited ticket selling power to teens, there is bound to be some overlap and potential oversaturation as market recovery is still progressing.
In favor of the scenario where both films could beat expectations, though, is the fact that Regal’s re-opening process continues with another 45 locations turning the lights back on this weekend — including seven in California and eight in New York state. New York City also just announced seating capacities can increase to 33 percent, but not until Monday, April 26 — so that won’t have much impact on this frame.
The headline outcome of the weekend will greatly depend on how FUNimation chooses to count box office grosses for Demon Slayer. The film opens Thursday evening in more than 1,200 locations, but there has been no confirmation as to whether those earnings will be counted separately or rolled into Friday and the weekend. For our purposes in the mean time, we’re excluding Slayer‘s forecasted Thursday from weekend figures.
On Showtimes Dashboard, Demon Slayer is currently the leader with 21 percent of all booked shows on Thursday (edging out Godzilla vs. Kong‘s 20 percent share). By Friday, the race widens a bit with Mortal Kombat claiming 24 percent versus Slayer‘s 18 percent. GvK slips to 13 percent as the weekend proper begins.
On the holdover front, we can safely expect the three-week champ to take a tumble. Warner Bros. day-and-date releases have at times been prone to sharper drops than others in the market, and this weekend will see Godzilla vs. Kong lose virtually all of its IMAX and premium screen footprint to both Kombat and Slayer.
In conjunction with appeal to male audiences, that’s a triple whammy that will put the shared monster universe pic’s trajectory for a $100 million domestic finish in further jeopardy. It stood at $80.66 million through Sunday, April 18.
Elsewhere, two new wide releases — plus Bleecker Street’s Together Together in 665 cinemas — will have some mild impact on screen availability. Any male-driven films like Nobody and The Courier are bound to take slightly more significant dents than family fare like Raya and the Last Dragon and Tom & Jerry as they remain free of direct audience competition. Everything will come down to location counts for those movies.
This Weekend vs. Last Weekend
Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will increase between 100 and 150 percent from last weekend’s $18.0 million top ten haul.
|Film||Distributor||3-Day Weekend Forecast||Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, April 25||Location Count||% Change from Last Wknd|
|Mortal Kombat (2021)||Warner Bros. Studios||
($17 – 22 million range)*
($17 – 22 million range)*
|Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train||Funimation||
($8 – 13 million range)**
($13 – 18 million range)**
|Godzilla vs. Kong||Warner Bros. Studios||$3,000,000||$85,200,000||~2,600||-62%|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||Walt Disney Pictures||$1,700,000||$39,900,000||1,819||-12%|
|The Unholy||Sony Pictures / Screen Gems||$1,300,000||$11,400,000||1,835||-37%|
|Tom & Jerry||Warner Bros. Studios||$825,000||$43,700,000||~1,500||-26%|
|Together Together||Bleecker Street||$625,000||$625,000||665||NEW|
|The Girl Who Believes in Miracles||Atlas Distribution||$450,000||$2,600,000||941***||-19%|
* = updated ahead of first weekend reporting from preliminary $14 – 19 million range and $17.4 million pinpoint forecast
** = updated ahead of first weekend reporting from preliminary $9 – 14 (3-day) and $14 – 19 million (4-day) ranges & $11.5 million (3-day) and $17.5 million (4-day) pinpoint forecasts
*** = updated from preliminary ~800 estimate following studio confirmation
All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.
Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studios.
Forecasts above do not necessarily represent the top ten, but rather films with the widest theatrical footprint based on studio confirmations entering the weekend.
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