Woman King, The: Viola Davis’ Actioner Dominates Box-Office

‘The Woman King’ Impresses with $19 Million Debut


Bolstered by good reviews and positive word-of-mouth, the movie collected $19 million from 3,765 American cinemas over the weekend, arriving at the higher end of expectations.

Independent tracking services projected the film would kick off with $15 million to $18 million, while Sony estimated a debut around $12 million.

“The Woman King” cost $50 million to produce, not including the tens of millions in marketing expenses, including a premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

Gina Prince-Bythewood directed The Woman King, which tells the true story of the all-female warrior unit known as the Agojie, who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Audiences awarded the film a rare “A+” CinemaScore.

As expected, the majority of opening weekend crowds were female, with women accounting for 61% of ticket buyers between Friday and Sunday. Broken down by demographic, 60% of moviegoers were Black, 19% were Caucasian, 11% were Hispanic and 10% were Asian.

Given the strong reception from initial crowds, box office analysts believe “The Woman King” will enjoy a lucrative run on the big screen. It helps that there’s not a ton on the way in the form of competition, though Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” which also targets female audiences, opens on the big screen on Sept. 23.

“Reviews are sensational,” says David A. Gross, who runs the consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “These movies play to healthy multiples during their holdover weeks and that should happen here.

“The Woman King” easily towered over box office charts because there weren’t other high-profile movies playing in theaters.

Searchlight’s murder mystery “See How They Run,” starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan, opened in third place with $3.1 million from 2,400 American theaters.

The only other film to premiere nationwide, A24’s horror sequel Pearl, landed in a close fourth with $3.1 million from 2,934 venues.

Those ticket sales mark decline from its predecessor, director Ti West’s “X,” which debuted in March to $4.2 million and ended its run with $11 million.

A24 has already announced a third chapter, MaXXXine, to debut in 2023. Mia Goth stars in the slasher series in multiple roles, with “Pearl” serving as an origin story about her repressed antihero.

Two holdover titles, the Airbnb-set chiller “Barbarian” and Brad Pitt’s action thriller “Bullet Train,” rounded out the top five.

“Barbarian,” which took the No. 1 spot last weekend, slid to second place with $6.3 million from 2,340 locations in its sophomore frame. It fell only 42% from its $10 million debut, a strong hold for a low-budget horror movie. So far, “Barbarian” has grossed a solid $20.9 million at the domestic box office.

In fifth place, Bullet Train earned $2.5 million from 2,602 cinemas in its seventh weekend of release. The movie is nearing the $100 million in America, with ticket sales at $96 million. “Bullet Train” has earned $125.7 million at the international box office, taking its global tally to an impressive $222 million.

For only the second time in 17 weeks, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick landed outside the top five on domestic box office charts. Tom Cruise’s enduring blockbuster sequel added $2.18 million from 2,604 venues over the weekend, boosting ticket sales to $709 million in North America.

Neon’s Moonage Daydream, a documentary about David Bowie, cracked the top 10 while playing on only 170 Imax screens. The film grossed $1.225 million over the weekend, averaging a solid $7,207 per location. “Moonage Daydream,” directed by Brett Morgen, expands next weekend to approximately 600 theaters.

The arthouse release The Silent Twins brought in $102,000 from 279 venues, translating to so-so $365 per screen. Focus Features is releasing the movie, which received mixed reviews since its premiere at Cannes Fest. Starring Letitia Wright, the real-life story centers on twin sisters who only communicated with each other.

It’s been a dreary fall at the box office so far, with ticket sales down roughly 55% compared to 2019. That’s because studios haven’t been releasing films from major franchises.

The next potential blockbusters won’t be until Black Adam (October 21), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11) and Avatar: The Way of Water (December 16).