SUNDAY AM FINAL: In the fight between Funimation/Aniplex’s Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train and New Line/Warner Bros./HBO Max’s Mortal Kombat, it is the latter who is the victor with $22.5M, while the anime title drew $19.5M. Interestingly enough, that amount isn’t that far from what Midway Game’s feature adaptation made back in 1995: $23.2M.
All in, both films, according to Comscore, drove the biggest overall weekend since mid-March last year, when Covid started stateside with $52.9M, +180% over last weekend. Mortal Kombat reps the biggest R-rated opening to date during the pandemic.
All of this is a great sign that the world is opening up again, as the pandemic eases and vaccinations go up. While we have tapped Warner Bros. on the chin for their audacious theatrical and HBO Max day-and-date strategy (which will catch up with itself eventually), we would not know that these B.O. results were possible if it wasn’t for Warner Bros. Really, theaters wouldn’t be open if it wasn’t for Warner Bros. (and Universal), and sincerely that goes all the way back to late August’s Tenet.
This is the fourth movie from Warners this year to open in the No. 1 spot. The studio has owned nine weeks out of 17 this year in the top spot at the box office, with a 48% market share overall.
“New Line once again far exceeded expectations and brought a movie that wowed fans general audiences,” beamed Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution Boss Jeff Goldstein this morning.
This was to be expected, that Warners would edge out, for a couple of reasons: They had the bigger marketing spend (Mortal Kombat is a $55M net production, and given the B.O. result here, Warners likely shelled out less than Godzilla vs. Kong‘s estimated $70M). Understand, the most which was ever expected for Mortal Kombat was $15M going into this weekend. Most of these Warner Bros. movies this year keep beating their tracking, and I’m told, again and again by non-Warner Bros. sources, that the reason why is because of the studio’s new Worldwide Marketing President Josh Goldstine. He knows the secret sauce involved in opening a movie, and when he was at Universal and Sony, those two studios experienced moments where their event pics would beat projections.
A clever marketing move which the Warner marketing team pulled on Tuesday is that they dropped the first seven minutes of Mortal Kombat. You know what happened? I’m told pre-sales tripled on Tuesday (this despite Demon Slayer selling Mortal Kombat out at AMC 4 to 1 in presales heading into the weekend). Credit is also due here to New Line President and CCO Richard Brener and EVP Dave Neustadter, the MacGyver of movie budgets, in delivering an adequately priced feature which delivered with wide appealing results.
While iSpot saw over $6M in TV spend by Warners for Mortal Kombat heading into the weekend, I’m told that number was really in the $12M range. The studio ran spots on Telemundo, UniMas, Univision, Adult Swim, BET, MTV, Turner Sports, and the NBA, along with sponsorships on ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes. Mortal Kombat spots, according to iSpot, aired on such shows on College and NBA basketball, Family Guy, Ridiculousness, and Rick and Morty.
Warners also had multiple screening events with Gold House (4/22), HBCU Colleges (4/22), CAPE, Asian American Journalist Association, CAAM, East West Players, APA Women, AAPI Women Lead, C100, and more for Mortal Kombat. As we previously told you, fans went nuts over the red-band trailer, which was the second most-watched one ever (after James Gunn’s upcoming The Suicide Squad) in its first week, with over 116M views worldwide.
In hobbled Canada, where only 20% of the B.O. is available, PVOD for Mortal Kombat did $2M there.
The top 10 locations for Mortal Kombat were: 1. AMC Burbank Los Angeles, 2. Santikos Palladium San Antonio, 3. Cinemark Tinseltown El Paso, 4. Santikos Casa Blanca San Antonio, 5. AMC Orange Los Angeles, 6. Cinemark Pharr Town Center (Texas), 7. AMC Empire New York, 8. Cinemark Century 16 Corpus Christi, 9. AMC Gulf Pointe Houston, and 10. AMC Southlake Pavilion Atlanta.
And the top 10 DMA markets for the New Line pic were: 1. Los Angeles, 2. New York, 3. Dallas, 4. Houston, 5. Chicago, 6. Phoenix, 7. San Francisco, 8. Atlanta, 9. Orlando, and 10. Philadelphia.
In further clarification, Funimation spent in the single digits, I’m told, to push Demon Slayer to sub and dub audiences. There were outdoor ads, including an L.A. train wrap, billboards in key markets, and digital campaigns that launched in week. Funimation partnered with key exhibitors to drive incremental ticket sales, with social and CRM activations including dedicated emails, push notifications, organic and sponsored posts. There were influencer activations on Demon Slayer with chefs (Jonathan Kung), beauty (Bella Poarch), and sports influencers (Juju Smith-Schuster) that launched with ticket pre-sell and extended through the first several weeks of release.
Another reason why Mortal Kombat had the upper hand here is because anime is traditionally front-loaded. While it looks like Demon Slayer fell harder in its Saturday to Friday than Mortal Kombat (-32% vs the New Line pic’s -5%), keep in mind that the Funimation/Aniplex movie rolled $3.8M Thursday previews into its $9.5M Friday. Backing Thursday out of Friday (making it $5.7M), Demon Slayer‘s Saturday of $6.44Mis technically up +13%. Mortal Kombat dipped from $9.08M on Friday to $8.7M on Saturday with Sunday expected to bring in $4.8M.
Imax drove business for both Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer. The New Line movie had the large format screens from Friday-Sunday, earning 2.7M at 375 auditoriums (global was $4.3m). Demon Slayer had those venues on Thursday earning $710K. To date, the anime pic has grossed $28.6M WW in Imax, $25M of that coming from Japan. Demon Slayer is the biggest non-Chinese local title and fourth- highest grossing local language movie in Imax.
Bleecker Street’s Together Together benefited from AMC bookings, which had the pic playing for more than one showtime. The Sundance title, starring Ed Helms and Patti Harrison, turned out good results, given the pandemic with top markets being LA, NYC, Phoenix, Chicago and San Francisco with notable results in Nashville and Seattle.
Total running B.O. for 2021 according to Comscore is $433.96M, off 76% from 2020’s $1.8 billion for the period of Jan. 1-April 25.
The weekend B.O. for April 23-25, 2021 – Oscar weekend, daily B.O. as provided by distributor
1.) Mortal Kombat (New Line/WB), 3,073 theaters /Fri $9.08M/Sat $8.7M/Sun $4.765M/3-day $22.5M/Wk 1
2.) Demon Slayer (Fun/Ani) 1,605 theaters/Fri $9.5M/Sat $6.44M/Sun $3.56M/3-day $19.5M Wk 1
3.) Godzilla vs. Kong (WB/Leg) 2,856 theaters (-145),Fri $1.1M/Sat $1.9M/Sun $1.2M/ 3-day: $4.2M (-46%)/Total: $86.57M/Wk 4
4.) Nobody (Uni) 2,252 theaters (-153) Fri $500K/Sat $850K/Sun $510K/3-day: $1.86M (-26%)/Total $21.67M/Wk 5
5.) Raya and the Last Dragon (Dis) 1,819 theaters (-126), Fri $400K/Sat $800K/Sun $480k/ 3-day: $1.68M (-12%), Total: $39.8M/Wk 8
6.) The Unholy (Sony) 1,835 theaters (-222) //Fri $425K/Sat $610M/Sun $365K/$1.4M (-32%)/Total: $11.5M/Wk 4
7.) Tom & Jerry (WB) 1,930 theaters (-98), 3-day: $650K (-32%)/Total: $43.4M/Wk 9
8.) Together Together (BST) 665 theaters, Fri $181K, Sat $211K, Sun $130K, 3-day: $522K/Wk 1
9.) The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (Atlas) 941 theaters (-71) Fri $90K/Sat $155K/Sun $92K/ 3-day $337K (-40%)/Total: $2.4M/Wk 4
10.) The Courier (RSA) 713 theaters (-210),/Fri $84K/Sat $120K/Sun $60K/3-day: $264K (-43%)/Total: $5.9M/Wk 6