MGM’s bet on Michael B. Jordan has paid off, as “Creed III” has knocked out box office expectations with a $58.6 million opening weekend from 4,007 theaters.
Despite being the first “Creed” film without Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, the boxing threequel has set a new opening weekend record for the franchise, well above the $35.5 million three-day weekend earned by “Creed II” on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018 and pre-release projections for a $40 million launch. MGM also claims that this is the highest opening weekend for any sports film in box office history, beating the $55.6 million opening of the 2011 “Karate Kid” remake starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.
On top of that, “Creed III” has earned the highest opening weekend of any film released theatrically by Amazon Studios, which bought MGM a year ago for $8.5 billion. While the biggest gets from that acquisition were distribution rights to the James Bond franchise and an extensive film library, Amazon also took in “Creed III” and MGM’s robust distribution network. Given the success of this opening weekend, it’s likely that more “Creed” films will be on the way from Jordan and MGM.
Amazon and MGM plan to use their combined force to expand their theatrical footprint, continuing next month with Ben Affleck’s sports film “Air” next month, which will receive a wide theatrical release rather than a release straight onto Amazon Prime. That shift mirrors an industry-wide trend as studios pivot back to releasing films to theaters after pushing many of them straight to streaming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between now and the release of “Air” in early April, “Creed III” is in position to have a strong March buoyed by excellent word-of-mouth. The film has an 87% critics and 96% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, an A- on CinemaScore and an 80% recommend on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. With sequels to “Scream,” “Shazam” and “John Wick” on the way this month, that strong audience reception will be a big help for “Creed III” to stand out from the competition to come and should allow it to easily pass the $115 million domestic total of “Creed II.”
“Creed III” also got support from premium formats, including $6.5 million from Imax screenings. That extra revenue from those formats came at the cost of Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which after losing those formats took another steep weekend drop of 60% to $12.5 million in its third weekend.
“Quantumania” now has a domestic total of $186.5 million — 13% ahead of the pace set by the last “Ant-Man and the Wasp” — and a global total of $419.5 million, with international totals behind that of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” almost solely due to the film’s severe underperformance in China, where “Quantumania” has grossed just $36.9 million as the first new Marvel release since 2019.
Also opening this weekend is Crunchyroll’s “Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village,” the latest anime franchise film handled by the Sony-owned distributor. The film is opening to $10.1 million from 1,780 theaters, roughly half of the $21 million opening earned by “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” during the earliest stages of the movie theater reopening period in April 2021.
“Demon Slayer” is fourth on the box office charts just behind Universal’s “Cocaine Bear,” which earned $11 million in its second weekend, dropping 53% from its $23 million opening. The R-rated comedic thriller from Elizabeth Banks has a 10-day total of $41 million, putting it on pace to turn a profit against its reported $35 million budget before marketing.
Lionsgate/Kingdom’s “Jesus Revolution” completes the top 5 with a second weekend total of $8.6 million, giving the faith-based film a 10-day total of $30.5 million. With a weekend drop of 47%, Lionsgate is expressing optimism that the film can hold well among Christian moviegoers through Easter weekend after a targeted marketing campaign that included hundreds of screenings at churches and Christian colleges.
Lionsgate also released the Miramax/STX-produced “Operation Fortune” in 2,168 theaters this weekend, earning an opening weekend total of $3.1 million.
Finally, 20th Century’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has fallen out of the top 5 in its 12th weekend in theaters, adding $3.6 million this weekend to bring its total to $670 million domestic and $2.28 billion worldwide, the latter total standing third on the all-time charts before inflation adjustment.