For the first time since the pandemic struck, not one, but two movies brought in notable ticket sales at the domestic box office. It's the clearest indication yet that people appear ready to return to the movies after nearly a year of staying home to stream.
"Mortal Kombat," a martial arts-inspired adaptation of the popular video game, led US box office charts, taking in a robust $22.5 million from 3,073 North American venues. The Warner Bros. movie is already available to watch at home, on the streaming service HBO Max, for a month -- a strategy the studio is deploying for its entire 2021 slate.
Though the R-rated "Mortal Kombat" easily cinched first place, it had more competition than it may have expected heading into the weekend. In a not-so-distant second, "Demon Slayer: Mugen Train" earned a solid $15.9 million from 1,598 locations. That number is slightly below estimations that suggested the movie could reach $19.5 million over the weekend, but it's an impressive haul nonetheless. The anime action adventure, from Funimation and Aniplex, has been a massive commercial hit in international markets such as Japan, where it currently ranks as the highest-grossing movie ever with $365 million. In total, "Demon Slayer" has surpassed the $400 million mark.
Box office analysts have been encouraged by the one-two punch of "Mortal Kombat" and "Demon Slayer," especially since only 50% of cinemas in the country have reopened. Multiplexes that have been able to welcome back patrons have been capping attendance in line with government guidelines. In Los Angeles, for example, that means 50% capacity or 200 people. In New York, theaters will be able to operate at 33% capacity starting on Monday.
Overseas, "Mortal Kombat" collected $6.3 million from 37 foreign territories, bringing its international tally to $27.6 million. The film, produced by New Line Cinemas for a modest $55 million, has generated $50 million globally to date.