Demon Slayer & Mortal Kombat
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Credit: Aniplex USA/Warner Bros. & HBO Max

Box office: 'Demon Slayer' finishes 'Mortal Kombat' in second weekend with narrow margin of $.2 million

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May 2, 2021, 1:18 PM EDT

Despite topping the domestic box office last weekend, Warner Bros.' R-rated Mortal Kombat adaptation couldn't survive two rounds with Funimation and Aniplex's Demon Slayer. The latter landed in the top spot this weekend with $6.4 million in North American ticket sales. Mortal Kombat narrowly fell to second with $6.2 million. That said, both movies saw a 70 percent drop in financials (via Variety) since their rather impressive bows of $19 - $22 million amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"This was another solid weekend at the box office and the fifth biggest overall of the pandemic era in North America," senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian tells SYFY WIRE. "As we work our way back to a more 'normal' theatrical marketplace, films like Demon Slayer and Mortal Kombat are building blocks in the road to recovery that should culminate in a Memorial weekend featuring two potential blockbusters — A Quiet Place 2 and Cruella — whose expected strong performances should signal that the movie theater is making its comeback and we may have a legitimate summer movie season after all."

To date, Demon Slayer has slain $34.1 million between the U.S. and Canada, becoming the third highest-grossing anime release in North America (unseating Dragon Ball: Super Broly, which totaled $30 million domestically back in 2018). The film is performing even better abroad where it's become the biggest movie in Japan's history with more than $368 million. On a global scale, it's become the highest-grossing anime flick ever with $423 million in worldwide sales.

(Check out a free manga inspired by the movie right here).

“With every milestone reached and every achievement the film has gained, we know that it is all thanks to the fans who have supported the series and the tireless work by the staff and cast,” Atsuhiro Iwakami, President of Aniplex (co-distributor for Demon Slayer in the U.S.) said in a statement last week. “We are truly humbled and honored by how much the film has resonated with people from all over the world and to be able to play a part in nurturing this deep bond we all share as fans of anime.”

“The breath-taking animation and emotional depth of this film is anime at its best — a differentiated experience that invites everyone to belong ,” added Colin Decker, CEO of Funimation Global Group (Aniplex's fellow domestic distributor). “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba had the largest opening weekend box office of any foregin language film — an achievement that was decades in the making. Thank you to our partners at Aniplex of America, Shueisha, ufotable and, of course, the community of fans."

Mortal Kombat's domestic tally isn't far behind Demon Slayer's with $34 million. Not bad for a two-week milestone, especially since audiences can stream the movie on HBO Max until the end of May. Globally, the ultra-violent movie (which doesn't shy away from the brutal nature of the games' various fatalities) has made over $66 million. There's no official word on a sequel just yet, but there's plenty more to explore — like the actual tournament, for instance — if Warner Bros is interested in creating a new cinematic franchise.

“The tournament is both an opportunity and also a constriction in some ways,” director Simon McQuoid told ComingSoon.net. “There’s something about the idea of a tournament film… We knew it was a key ingredient into Mortal Kombat, obviously, but it really starts to inform and build your film construct, heavily, that it was too powerful an ingredient for the story structure… We could go there, potentially. It’s part of the Mortal Kombat DNA so it’s worth considering, but I don’t really know. The games have sort of moved away from that anyway. It’s better expanding than constricting."

(For SYFY WIRE's own chat with the filmmaker, click here).

Godzilla vs. Kong (another WB release that left HBO Max prior to the weekend) remained in third place in its fifth outing with an extra $2.4 million that boosted its North American haul to just over $90 million. In terms of the worldwide box office, the kaiju smackdown has a monster-sized total of $415 million, which has prompted the studio to start developing a fifth MonsterVerse project (codenamed "Son of Kong") with Adam Wingard back at the helm.

Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon landed in fourth with $1.335 million, bringing its domestic cume to over $41 million. Two Lionsgate holdovers — Voyagers and Chaos Walking — hit $3 million and $13.2 million, respectively. Internationally, Sony's The Unholy reached $7.9 million while Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway hopped to $17.4 million.