‘Challengers’ Scores First Place, Ends With $15 Million Debut

8 Min Read

Game, set and what to think of this match?

“Challengers,” a sexy, subversive R-rated drama set in the world of tennis, easily took first place at the sluggish domestic box office this weekend with some $15.2 million. On the one hand, it is a respectable result for an artistic film aimed at a critical, adult audience. But what keeps it from being a championship performance is the fact that “Challengers” has a hefty $55 million budget (not to mention the marketing costs). The Amazon MGM Studios release will need strong word of mouth if it wants to continue to find success — and next week sees the release of Universal’s ‘The Fall Guy,’ an action comedy from Ryan Reynolds and Emily Blunt that marks the unofficial start of the blockbuster season for summer. From here the competition will only get tougher.

Amazon MGM would probably argue that “Challengers” doesn’t have to be a box office phenomenon to be successful. The higher profile that comes with a theatrical release will push “Challengers” forward when it debuts on Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming service, and set it up nicely for other home entertainment revenue streams, the thinking goes. That revenue and that viewership data goes largely unreported or rotates within an inch of its lifespan, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know what constitutes a true win in this new streaming era. Kevin Wilson, the head of theatrical distribution at Amazon MGM Studios, said he expects the film to score with Prime Video subscribers, compared to “Saltburn,” the steamy drama the company released last fall that later became one of the most successful films. streaming releases viewed.

See also  Helldivers 2 sells 12 million to become PlayStation's new fastest-selling game

“This film will do much better if it comes to our platform,” he said, noting that theatrical revenue essentially helps offset “Challenger’s” marketing costs.

“Amazon’s financials are a little different when you compare them to other studios,” Wilson added.

That’s certainly true, and with a market cap of $1.87 trillion, Amazon can afford to take a gamble on something like “Challengers,” even if ticket sales are unlikely to fund Jeff Bezos’ next space trip. Just look at how the large media conglomerates compare to the e-retailer: Warner Bros. Discover has a market cap of $19.79 billion, Disney’s at $206.78 billion and Comcast’s at $153.19 billion.

“Challengers,” with a cast that includes Zendaya and rising stars Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist, could play a role in the awards season race. Critics praised director Luca Guadagnino’s take on the tangled lives of a trio of tennis professionals, with VarietyPeter Debruge’s Peter Debruge calls the drama ‘steamy and stylish’ and says it is ‘that rare film where just watching it makes you break a sweat’. “Challengers” has a solid 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with audiences giving it a B+ CinemaScore.

Zendaya, high off the ‘Dune’ films and ‘Euphoria’, was the film’s main attraction. According to PostTrak, about 55% of ticket buyers were inspired to watch “Challengers” because her name was above the title. Another piece of news that should raise Zendaya’s asking price: “Dune: Part Two” crossed the $700 million mark worldwide this weekend. The actress is part of a new wave of stars, including her “Dune” co-star Timothee Chalamet, “Creed’s” Michael B. Jordan and the “Anyone But You” duo Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, who are quickly climbing the ranks. A list. The youth infusion comes as previous generations, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Cruise, enter their sixth or seventh decades.

See also  Parloa, a conversational AI platform for customer service, raises $66 million

“Unsung Hero,” a drama about the formation of popular Christian rock duo For King & Country, took second place with $7.7 million from 2,832 North American locations. Joel Smallbone, one of the group members, is co-directing the Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company release with Richard Ramsey. He also stars in the film, playing his father. The faith-based film cost just $6 million to produce, giving “Unsung Hero” a clearer path to profitability. It will also benefit from the fact that faith-based audiences seem to have embraced the film, giving “Unsung Hero” a stellar A+ CinemaScore.

Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” earned $7.2 million and took third place. The clash of the original titans is now grossing $181.7 million domestically. A24’s “Civil War” took fourth place and raised $7 million. That brings the domestic take for the political thriller to $56.2 million. Universal’s “Abigail” rounded out the top five with $5.2 million. The vampire film’s North American gross is an anemic $18.8 million after two weeks.

Among other new releases, Roadside Attractions’ “Boy Kills World,” an action-adventure starring Bill Skarsgård, opened to about $1.6 million in fewer than 2,000 theaters. And everything old is new again, as Ridley Scott’s masterpiece ‘Alien’ grossed nearly $1.6 million after Disney and 20th Century Pictures re-released the 1979 deep space exercise in terror.

Total sales for the weekend fell by almost 35%. Last year, around this time, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is still heating up the box office, earning over $40 million in its fourth weekend of release.

See also  Carson Lund presents Fortnight Pic 'Eephus from directors such as Tale of Change

“Challengers” was originally set to kick off the Venice Film Festival before premiering last fall. However, the actors’ strike derailed these plans when it became clear that Zendaya and the rest of the cast would not be able to promote the film. The slowdown may have helped movie theaters, which are mired in a prolonged recession and desperate for movies to put on their screens — COVID combined with the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes has turned movie production upside down, leaving studios with fewer films to release. Without sufficient product, ticket sales will have fallen by almost 20% in 2024. So movie theaters can use a splashy new movie like “Challengers” to fill their marquees, even if ticket sales aren’t at blockbuster levels.

“Challengers” is the biggest debut of Guadagnino’s career. But the acclaimed filmmaker has always been more of an arthouse favorite than a populist talent. It topped “Bones and All,” his cannibals-in-love drama, which debuted in 2022 to $2.2 million, to earn that eminently attainable distinction.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *