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SYFY WIRE Box Office

Flawless victory! 'Mortal Kombat' reboot slays $22.5 million at domestic box office in debut weekend

By Josh Weiss

Warner Bros. wins! The studio’s highly-anticipated Mortal Kombat reboot wrested the North American box office away from Godzilla vs. Kong with a domestic bow of $22.5 million. The video game adaptation collected an international bounty of beating hearts worth $6.3 million for a worldwide haul of $50 million. Warner Bros. should have no problem making a nice profit over the $55 million production budget, which means…sequels galore!

The film makes its sequel intentions pretty clear with a final shot that teases the arrival of a fan favorite character. In addition Joe Taslim, who plays the ice-happy Sub-Zero, has admitted that he’s signed on for four more entries.

“I'm here. I know what to do," co-screenwriter Greg Russo told SYFY WIRE when asked about the prospects of a follow-up. “I loved working with this crew and it was like a big family. So it was definitely one of my favorite experiences.”

Based on the iconic fighting titles, Mortal Kombat was directed by relative newcomer, Simon McQuoid, and is also available to stream on HBO Max until the end of May. While its streaming/rollout plan for 2021 originally drew backlash from Hollywood, WB seems to be having the last laugh with a steady stream of box office hits that continue to draw in audiences, who have the option to stream these films from the safety of their own homes.

Lewis Tan (Wu Assassins) headlines the blockbuster as Cole Young, a wholly original character created for the movie. He’s a down-on-his-luck MMA fighter who finds himself enlisted to fight in an ancient and brutal tournament that will decide the fate of the planet.

This modern day adaptation currently holds a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics were enthralled by the R-rated violence (allowing McQuoid to fully realize the games’ devastating fatalities) and deep cut nods to the source material, but weren’t entirely sold on the story and performances. All of those critiques are meaningless if the studio ends up with a fat chunk of change.

Hiroyuki Sanada (Scorpion), Mehcad Brooks (Jax), Jessica McNamee (Sonya Blade), Tadanobu Asano (Lord Raiden), Ludi Lin (Liu Kang), Max Huang (Kung Lao), and Josh Lawson (Kano) co-star.

After becoming the highest-grossing film in Japan’s history with $365 million, FUNimation’s Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train hit North American shores with $19.5 million. Thanks to that added boost, Demon Slayer now has more than $400 million at the worldwide box office.

“It’s heartening that two genres that traditionally have had mixed results at the North American box office (video game and non-English language films) are, in this environment, being embraced by movie fans eager to experience these films in the context of bigger-than-life and communal presentation of the movie theater,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore tells SYFY WIRE, referring to Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer.

Also released by WB, Godzilla vs. Kong fell to third place with $4.2 million at the U.S. box office following three weeks of financial supremacy. It may no longer be the king of the big screen, but the movie (directed by Death Note’s Adam Wingard) is still the highest-grossing release of the COVID-19 pandemic — both domestically ($86.5 million) and globally (over $400 million).

“It’s evident that Godzilla vs. Kong is reigniting moviegoing everywhere and that audiences are more than ready to return to theaters, where and when it’s safe, for a big screen experience like this one,” Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution, said in a statement published by Variety.

Other genre holdovers include: Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon ($1.68 million in its eighth weekend for a total of $39 million); Neon’s In The Earth ($204,000 in its second frame for a total of $8894,665); Lionsgate’s Voyagers ($170,000 in its third weekend for a total of 2.9 million); and Lionsgate’s Chaos Walking ($112,000 in its eighth weekend for a total of $13.1 million).

In markets abroad, Sony made about $2 million from The Unholy and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. An IMAX re-release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers made an extra $1.2 million from ticket sales in Russia and China. Since returning to theaters in February, the fantasy sequel has made almost $5 million.