The Woman King, starring Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, conquered the domestic box with an opening of $19 million or more after earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore from audiences.
Woman King came in ahead of expectations (tracking had suggested it would open with $15 million to $18 million, although Sony had said only $12 million). On Friday, it earned $6.85 million, including $1.7 million in Thursday previews.
From Sony’s TriStar division and eOne, the historical epic is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood from a script by Dana Stevens and based on a story by Maria Bello and Stevens about the Agojie, an all-female army in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The film skewed female and older. Women made up 58 percent of all ticket buyers, according to exit-polling service PostTrak. Black moviegoers made up 56 percent of the audience, followed by white moviegoers (23 percent), Latinos (15 percent) and Asian or other identified moviegoers (6 percent).
The film received rave reviews from its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 9. It presently boasts a 93 percent critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Woman King cost a reported $50 million to produce, excluding marketing and distribution spends. Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and John Boyega also star.
Elsewhere, two specialty movies opted to open wide due to a dearth of event pics aside from Woman King: A24’s horror prequel Pearl and Searchlight’s whodunit See How They Run.
Pearl grossed $3.1 million from 2,935 theaters to tie with See How They Run, which likewise grossed $3.1 million. Both received a so-so B- CinemaScore.
Neon opened Brett Morgen’s David Bowie biopic Moonage Daydream in only 170 cinemas. The film, which made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, is projected to post a per location average of more than $7,000, the best of any film this weekend.