The movie will easily win the weekend box office race. On Friday, it earned $6.85 million, including $1.7 million in Thursday previews. Woman King is coming in on the high end of expectations (tracking had suggested it would open with $15 million to $18 million, although Sony had said only $12 million).
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.
Women made up 60 percent of all ticket buyers on Friday, Black moviegoers made up 59 percent of the audience, followed by white moviegoers (19 percent), Latinos (12 percent) and Asian or other identified moviegoers (10 percent).
The film received rave reviews from its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 9. It presently boasts a 94 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 and Searchlight’s whodunit See How They Run.
Pearl grossed $1.3 million from 2,935 theaters on Friday for a projected $3 million-plus opening. The movie is expected to place third on the weekend chart, followed by See How They Run with a projected $2.8 million from 2,404 locations. Both received a so-so B- CinemaScore.
Neon is opening 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 sing to a strong $1.35 million in its launch.