The winter box office continues to have some breadth as MGM’s Creed III, the feature directorial debut of Michael B. Jordan, eyes a potential franchise-high opening for the Rocky spinoff about Apollo Creed’s son with a $38M-$40M bow at 4,007 theaters.
Previous Creed pics played during the Thanksgiving frame in 2015 and 2018, respectively opening to $29M ($42.1M 5-day) and $35.5M ($56M 5-day) off of A CinemaScores. Already, Creed III is 90% certified fresh with Rotten Tomatoes critics, which is higher than Creed II‘s 83% fresh and a bit lower than Creed‘s 95%. There are some special 7 p.m. shows tonight with Thursday previews starting at 7 p.m Creed III has all the premium-ticket formats, i.e. Imax, PLFs and 4DX.
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In Part 3, an old ex-con and Golden Gloves boxer friend of Adonis Creed’s, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors in his second big film on the marquee now), comes back into his life. After Adonis (Jordan) trains Damian, he winds up becoming a bigger foe than he anticipated.
The threequel cost $75M before P&A and is tracking strong with Black audiences and guys, and in particular younger-skewing audiences. Creed II pulled in 66% under-35 and a diverse range of 38% Caucasian, 29% African American, 22% Hispanic/Latino and 6% Asian. The 2018 second film pulled in 34% men over 25, 30% women over 25, 23% guys under 25 and 14% women under 25.
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Despite Creed III‘s looming win, two other titles decided to date on top of that: Crunchyroll’s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: To the Swordsmith Village, which the distributor is billing as a theatrical experience of episodes from two television seasons in 4K and is expected to do in the $7.5M-$10M range, and Lionsgate/Miramax’s Guy Ritchie action movie Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, which is expected to do in the mid-single digits.
The Demon Slayer theatrical experience begins Friday with no previews.
Meanwhile, why did Lionsgate date Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre just two weeks ago? The action film starring Jason Statham, Hugh Grant, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett and Cary Elwes already has been released in several offshore markets, with an overseas gross of $41.4M. Simply put the $50M production got stuck in the STX financial restructuring limbo and was locked up at the bank. The movie just got released by the bank lienholders, and Lionsgate promptly got the theatrical release out there to make good on it even though it’s last-minute. Operation Fortune had to go now, particularly on a weekend where Creed III is pulling in all the guys because it already released abroad. The movie is booked at 2,150 theaters and is only getting a U.S. release (the pic is streaming in Canada). Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it 65% fresh off 23 reviews. Ritchie’s Wrath of Man was 67% fresh in 2021 and his 2020 pre-pandemic The Gentlemen was 75% certified fresh.
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Holdovers this weekend should find Disney/Marvel Studio’s third weekend of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania -40% with $19M. The pic currently stands at $170.5M stateside. Universal’s second weekend of Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear should ease by 55% for around $10M. The movie’s running total is just under $25M. Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution, with a running cume of $17.1M, should see another $8M this weekend, -50%.