Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: Theaters have the power of Mortal Kombat and anime on their side

Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.), a Demon Slayer figure (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.), a Demon Slayer figure (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: The A.V. Club

It’s been a few weeks since we checked in on the U.S. theatrical box office returns, and holy cow, things sure have changed since Godzilla and Kong heralded the tentatively enthusiastic return of American theaters (well, some American theaters). Not only did one movie make over $20 million this weekend, but another movie made just a hair under that, meaning—for the first time in weeks, if not months—two movies made relatively good money while everything else made basically nothing, instead of one movie making relatively good money and then falling off of a cliff (a cliff that Godzilla Vs. Kong is now intimately familiar with).

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The big winner was Mortal Kombat, a movie that isn’t very good in a traditional sense but does feature Kung Lao killing someone with a razor-brimmed hat (which is very good). It made $22 million, maintaining Warner Bros.’ fairly successful streak of simultaneous HBO Max/theatrical releases, most of which have landed at the top of the box office and then stayed there with little competition. Second place went to anime tie-in Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train, which finally opened in the U.S. after doing absolute bananas business internationally. It has made $365 million in Japan alone, enough to unseat Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (arguably one of the best animated films ever made) as the biggest movie in the history of that country. Hell, that’s more than any movie in the U.S. has made in over a year, and that includes pre-pandemic releases like Bad Boys For Life. We’re not saying it’s big, we’re saying it’s the “give me all the bacon and eggs you have” of Japanese movies.

At this point, it feels like a letdown to even acknowledge the rest of the list, but let’s just suck it up and talk about these losers: Godzilla Vs. Kong dropped 46 percent, which was still enough for $4 million (sitting at a total of $86 million, which is really good for the U.S. these days), followed by Nobody at $1.8 million (total of $21 million), then Raya And The Last Dragon at $1.6 (total of $39 million). There’s no sign of an Oscars bump yet, with Nomadland nowhere to be seen on the box office charts, but The Father did make $73,000 before everyone on the internet got mad about Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor over Chadwick Boseman.

For a more detailed rundown of the weekend’s box office numbers, head over to Box Office Mojo.