Mortal Kombat pulls ahead of Demon Slayer at US box office

LOS ANGELES – 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 US$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 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 US$15.9 million from 1,598 locations.
That number is slightly below estimations that suggested the movie could reach US$19.5 million over the weekend, but it’s an impressive haul nonetheless. 

The anime action adventure has been a massive commercial hit in international markets such as Japan, where it currently ranks as the highest-grossing movie ever with US$365 million. In total, Demon Slayer has surpassed the US$400 million mark.

Box office analysts have been encouraged by the one-two punch of Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer, especially since only 50 per cent 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 per cent capacity or 200 people. In New York, theatres will be able to operate at 33 per cent capacity starting on Monday.

“This weekend is another very good step,” said David A. Gross, who runs the movie consultancy FranchiseRe. “Moviegoing should start to normalise in early June.” 

Overseas, Mortal Kombat collected US$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 US$55 million, has generated US$50 million globally to date. - REUTERS