‘Mortal Kombat’ & ‘Demon Slayer’ In Fierce Brawl For No. 1, As Domestic Box Office Continues To Rebound From Pandemic – Deadline

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Wow, it’s a great weekend at the box office, even by pre-pandemic standards.

Two movies, both R-rated and aimed at fanboys, aren’t squashing one another, but equally set to gross over $19M apiece this weekend. We’re talking about New Line/HBO Max’s Mortal Kombat and Funimation/Aniplex’s Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen TrainSeriously, amazing box office results here in the wake of Warner’s $48M-plus Easter 5-day win with Godzilla vs. Kong. That’s considering 58% of U.S. and Canada’s 5,8K theaters are open, NYC is operating at 33% capacity, and Canada is only 20% open.

Both movies are blowing away expectations, which were around $10M for Demon Slayer and $10M-$12M for Mortal Kombat. I heard best-case scenario for the latter was $15M. But the reboot of the classic Midway game, which finally delivers a lot of blood, is literally killing it. It’s only right that on a weekend when the industry is celebrating the movies at the Oscars, that they deliver fantastic results at the box office.

Currently, given the front-loaded nature of anime pics such as Demon Slayer, the notion is that Mortal Kombat will wind up having the edge for the weekend. However, it won’t be shocking if both titles cross $20M.


Rival major studio brass, including those drunk on streaming, need to keep their eyes and ears open now: We’re at a place where if a studio invests in theatrical P&A, audiences will clearly come. But there’s an even bigger takeaway here, specifically in regards to Demon Slayer: Here we have a TV property, making its feature debut, and there’s clearly an appetite for the big screen version of this Koyoharu Gotoge-created manga. I suppose that Funimation could have taken this piece of IP straight into homes if they wanted. But they bet on theatrical and are easily winning, even if they rank in second place. Talk about respect for the window: the pic doesn’t hit EST until June 22.

Demon Slayer is far and away the biggest opening ever for the Sony-co-owned Funimation, besting the 2019 MLK release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly‘s 3-day of $9.8M and 4-day of $11.95M. That resulted in a 6-day debut of $22.4M, and final domestic of $30.7M. Already, from its overseas release last year in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and more, Demon Slayer counts over $435M at the foreign B.O.

Mortal KombatMortal Kombat
New Line Cinema

Each posted a very competitive Friday grosses on their own, which indicate that moviegoing is returning to normalcy, with Mortal Kombat taking $9.03M at 3,073 theaters and Demon Slayer grabbing $9.5M at 1,605 theaters. But the latter comes with an asterisk.

Note, Mortal Kombat did not have any Thursday night previews. Demon Slayer had Thursday night previews of $3.8M, boosted by Imax and PLF, which fueled over 18% of the gross, which are being rolled into Friday. As we mentioned in the previews, all we’ve heard for the last week and a half is how this anime movie has been racking up pre-sales.

Heading into the weekend, sources say Demon Slayer had $10M in pre-sales, with AMC seeing the Haruo Sotozaki-directed movie outselling Mortal Kombat, 4 to 1. Demon Slayer played best on the coasts, particularly the West. Close to 300 theaters in the pic’s count generated over $10K last night, meaning there are certain markets where anime overindexes.

The amazing thing here with this box office fight: We hear that Funimation spent less than Warner Bros in marketing to get to this gross level. iSpot shows that Warners was clearly spending more in TV spots, $6M+ to Funimation’s ~$100K. However, sources believe that for Demon Slayer to do this well at the B.O., Funimation had to have shelled out at least $8M-$10M, even if it was in digital.

As far as audience reactions go, those seeing Demon Slayer enjoyed it a bit better than those watching Mortal Kombat, with the former earning a 92% positive score from Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, with a great 78% recommend versus the Midway Games feature adaptation, which notched a B+ on CinemaScore. That said, 43% of those buying tickets to Mortal Kombat gave it an A-. Demon Slayer‘s audience skewed 59% male, 73% between 18-34 years old, with a diversity mix of 35% Hispanic, 27% Caucasian, 21% Asian/other and 17% Black.

Mortal Kombat drew in a broad audience of 30% Caucasian, 29% African American, 25% Hispanic, 9% Asian and 7% Native American, with males showing up at 67% and the 18-34 demo at 43%. The pic played best in Texas, the Midwest and the East Coast. The best gross came from San Antonio. What’s interesting to note here is that the markets that have had theaters opened longer during the pandemic, such as Texas, are punching above their weight. Los Angeles is solid.

Demon Slayer has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s only from 13 reviews, while Mortal Kombat is 56% Rotten from 168. It doesn’t matter. The folks spending to see these movies don’t care about reviews; they just want a great time getting out of the house after a year-plus of largely lockdown.

According to RelishMix, Demon Slayer videos on YouTube have clocked 62M views off of Funimation’s earned and owned materials, along with many reviews and reaction spots in Japanese and English, some of which are dubbed, and some with English voiceover on the anime trailer. Funimation’s Facebook boasts 2.3 million fans, with the Aniplex Facebook page contributing 3.2M views for the trailer. Funimation spent for TV spots on Adult Swim, earning 5.3M ad impressions running during such shows as Rick and Morty, Family Guy, Boondocks, Birdgirl and Family Guy. 

Mortal Kombat‘s social media universe across YouTube Views, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter grew from 134M last week to close to 150M this week per RelishMix.

Warner Bros

Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong is taking third place for the weekend with a $1.1M Friday, -47% from a week ago, and a projected fourth weekend of $4M, -49% for a running total by EOD Sunday of $86.4M.

In fourth place is Universal’s Bob Odenkirk R-rated action movie Nobody, which is also on PVOD and still holding well in theaters, with a 3-day that’s off 34% in weekend 5, with $1.66M and a running total on Sunday of $21.4M. The pic made $490K yesterday, -34% from a week ago.

Fifth place belongs to the 8th weekend of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, which made $400K at 1,819 theaters on its way to $1.5M, -20% and a running total of $39.7M.

‘Together Together’
Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street’s Sundance acquisition Together Togetherwhich has a 93% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, will crack into the top 10. Friday was $180K at 665 locations for $270 a site. The weekend looks to be around $494K. Most notable amount of business for the Nikole Beckwith-directed, written and executive produced movie came from Los Angeles. Pic follows young loner Anna (Patti Harrison), who is hired as the surrogate for Matt (Ed Helms), a single man in his 40s. The two strangers come to realize this unexpected relationship will quickly challenge their perceptions of connection, boundaries, and the particulars of love. Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, Anna Konkle, Sufe Bradshaw, Rosalind Chao, Nora Dunn and Fred Melamed also star in the movie.

Beckwith recorded a short introduction to the film teasing audiences to stay for an exclusively in-theater Q&A with Helms and Harrison, moderated by Dave Karger, following every showing of the movie which is booked at AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Landmark and others.