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“Creed III” punched above its weight at the domestic box office in its opening weekend in theaters. MGM Releases released “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” in first place and far exceeded industry expectations and the opening weekends of the first two movies in the franchise.
Playing in 4,007 locations in North America, “Creed III” has grossed an estimated $58.7 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Coming into the weekend, analysts were expecting the film to open in the $30 million range. The first “Creed” was released to $29 million in 2015 and “Creed II” opened to $35 million in 2018.
Michael B. Jordan made his directorial debut with “Creed III,” pitting his character Adonis against his childhood friend, Dame, played by Jonathan Majors. The first of the Rocky/Creed films not to feature Sylvester Stallone, who chose not to return due to artistic differences.
“This is more than we expected. And we knew there was something special – we tested the movie and it tested well, but the public responded amazingly to it,” said Erik Lomis, MGM’s head of distribution. “Everything went well here, starting with the film itself … It was up to us not to break it when they gave it to us, but we didn’t break it.”
Strong reviews have helped “Creed III,” currently sitting at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences have given it an A- CinemaScore. The audience was male (63%), diverse (36% Black, 28% Latino, 23% white and 13% Asian/other) and young (55% between 18 and 34) according to exit polls.
More than 80% of general audiences said the film was a “definite recommendation.” For Black audiences, that number increased to 89%.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s a rare atmosphere,” Lomis said. “People love the movie.”
It is also the most expensive “Creed” film, reportedly produced on a budget of $75 million, compared to others that cost $35 million and $50 million. Internationally, “Creed III” earned $41.8 million in 75 markets, making its worldwide debut $100.4 million.
It’s a big moment for Amazon, which acquired MGM for $8.5 billion last year, and would have just released “Creed III” on its streaming service for a limited theatrical run. But they chose the theater, and it paid off.
“Amazon threw their weight behind this film as much as they could,” Lomis said. “They overcharged the campaign with marketing support across all their verticals on and off the platform. That shows a commitment to the theater business model from Amazon and MGM, which I think should please everyone. “
The company’s next major theatrical release is “The Wind” directed by Ben Affleck, starring Matt Damon, which will be released next month.
“Ant-Man 3” dropped to a distant second in its third weekend in theaters with $12.5 million from North America and $22 million overseas. The worldwide film for Marvel and Disney now stands at $419.5 million.
Third place went to Universal’s “Cocaine Bear,” which added $11 million in its second weekend in theaters to bring its domestic total to $41.3 million.
Crunchyroll’s “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Swordsmith Village” placed fourth with $10.1 million. The series is based on Koyoharu Gotoge’s manga about a boy who avenges his family.
Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company’s “Jesus Revolution” rounded out the top five with $8.7 million. The film starring Kelsey Grammer as a 1970s priest made $30.5 million in two weekends in theaters against a production budget of $15 million.
Opening outside the top five was Guy Ritchie’s “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” a spy thriller starring Jason Statham, Hugh Grant and Aubrey Plaza that earned $3.2 million from 2,168 locations this weekend. The film, which was first released by STX, was in circulation for a long time. Lionsgate recently stepped in to oversee the domestic release.
The success of “Creed III” bodes well for other upcoming releases in March, including “John Wick Chapter 4” and “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods.”
“We’re going to have an amazing March,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore news analyst. “It’s going to feel more like summer than spring next time which will create an incredible momentum for the summer movie season.”
Estimated ticket sales from Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore, from Wednesday through Sunday are in brackets. The final home statistics will be released on Monday.
1. “Creed III,” $58.7 million. 2. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” $12.5 million. 3. “Cocaine Bear,” $11 million. 4. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Swordsmith Village,” $10.1 million. 5. “The Conversion of Jesus,” $8.7 million. 6. “Avatar: The Path of Water,” $3.6 million. 7. “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” $3.2 million. 8. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” $2.7 million. 9. “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” $1.2 million. 10. “Brady’s 80,” $845,000.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.
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