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Box Office: Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ Hits Target With $15M Opening for No. 1 Finish
2024/07/03

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Zendaya's romantic tennis drama, Challengers, dominated the weekend box office with a $15 million opening from 3,477 theaters, meeting expectations and marking the second-best start for an original R-rated drama since the pandemic, following Don't Worry Darling.

It was a daring move for MGM Amazon Studios to release Luca Guadagnino's mature adult drama nationwide instead of opting for a platform release, considering its more arthouse appeal. This decision was made in part to reach a broader audience, particularly Zendaya fans who are not yet subscribers to Amazon's streaming service, Prime. High-profile titles like this aim to keep existing subscribers engaged.

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By midweek, Challengers is expected to become Luca Guadagnino's highest-grossing film domestically, surpassing Call Me By Your Name's $18 million gross. The film also performed impressively overseas, earning $9 million from 52 markets and reaching a global total of $25 million. Challengers is finding success in Europe and Australia, with the UK leading the way with a $1.8 million debut.

While critics favored the R-rated film, audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore. The majority of Friday's viewers were women (58%), with a significant portion falling between the ages of 18 and 34 (76%). Challengers is resonating most with ethnically diverse viewers, with white moviegoers making up 43% of the audience, followed by Latino (27%), Black (17%), Asian (9%), and Native American/other (4%).

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Starring Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O'Connor, Challengers follows a tennis player grappling with conflicting emotions. A notable 37% of the film's opening weekend revenue came from premium-format screens like Imax. Originally scheduled for release last year during awards season, the film faced delays due to industry strikes and restrictions. The decision to prioritize a theatrical release over streaming has been praised by exhibitors and industry professionals.

In second place at the domestic box office is Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company's Unsung Hero, exceeding expectations with an opening of $7.

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8 million and an A+ CinemaScore. The faith-based film, appealing primarily to women (91%) and older viewers, tells the true story of David Smallbone and his family's pursuit of success in the music industry.

Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune: Part Two, both from Warner Bros. and Legendary, reached significant milestones at the global box office, surpassing $500 million and $700 million, respectively. These films are the highest-grossing of the year so far on a worldwide scale. Godzilla earned $7.2 million domestically, bringing its global total to $519.3 million, while Dune: Part Two accumulated $704.5 million worldwide.

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DreamWorks Animation and Universal celebrated Kung Fu Panda 4 crossing the $500 million mark globally, solidifying its position as the second most successful franchise from the studio. A re-release of Ridley Scott's classic Alien garnered positive responses and set the stage for the upcoming Alien: Romulus installment. In the top five, A24's Civil War maintained a strong presence with $7 million in revenue.

Universal's horror film Abigail rounded out the top five with $5 million in its second weekend, reaching a 10-day domestic total of $18.5 million. With domestic earnings lagging compared to the previous year, the industry is looking to next weekend's release of The Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling, to kickstart the summer box office. The film debuted early in 38 overseas markets, earning $8.7 million.

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