‘The Woman King’ Nabs Promising $1.7 Million Thursday

In what could hopefully be an end to the post-Bullet Train slump at the domestic box office, Sony’s The Woman King earned a promising $1.7 million in Thursday previews. The showings began as early as 3:00 pm and suggest that the $50 million action drama would make anywhere from $13.5 million to $22.5 million over its domestic debut. Splitting the difference would be around $17 million, a debut on par with Sony’s female-targeted Where the Crawdads Sing from back in July. That old-school melodrama, starring Daisy Edgar Jones and based on a much-read best-seller, legged out to $86 million domestic on a $24 million budget. Anything close to that would be a big win for The Woman King.

The Woman King features Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu and John Boyega in a (somewhat true) story of the Agojie, an all-female guard protecting the king and otherwise defending the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries. The film has earned mostly positive reviews, with a current 94% fresh and 7.7/10 grade on Rotten Tomatoes. The Gina Prince-Bythewood-directed picture, penned by Dana Stevens from a story by Stevens and Maria Bello, premiered at last week’s Toronto Film Festival to solid notices and under-the-radar Oscar buzz. It may not be explicitly positioned as an Oscar flick (it’s an action movie first), but a strong opening could put it in the game.

One helping factor is that The Woman King is the first big movie aimed at women since Crawdads, which was the first of its ilk since Everything, Everything All at Once and The Lost City in late March. The Woman King will fend off competition from Don’t Worry Darling next weekend. Still, otherwise both ‘not a white guy’ flicks will have the field to themselves, especially outside of horror movies like Halloween Ends (and the rerelease of Avatar), until Black Adam and Tickets to Paradise on October 21. Sony hopes for a decent opening followed by long legs fueled by word-of-mouth. I dare not hope, but I can’t imagine word-of-mouth not being strong for this unapologetic crowdpleaser.

I can only hope that the audiences correctly clamoring for more non-franchise, inclusive, star-driven, adult-skewing theatrical fare will show up this weekend. The extent to which they have not over the last 15 years, at least going back to Drew Barrymore’s terrific Whip It 13 years ago (see also: Widows, Overlord, The Spy Who Dumped Me, The Darkest Minds… all just in 2018), has slowly become my ‘villain origin story.’ The breakout successes of A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once and Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing give (false?) hope that perhaps change is slowly coming. Maybe audiences hungry for such fare won’t just settle for comparatively inclusive superhero movies and fantasy franchises.

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2022/09/16/movies-box-office-woman-king-2m-thursday-viola-davis-john-boyega/