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‘Mortal Kombat,’ ‘Demon Slayer’ Locked in Fierce Box Office Battle

MORTAL KOMBAT
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

Mortal Kombat” and “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” are locked in a fierce battle for box office dominance.

“Demon Slayer” has a slight edge at this point, earning $9.5 million from 1,598 locations on Friday. The Funimation and Aniplex of America release is based on an anime series and enters the U.S. after enjoying huge financial success in other markets, having already grossed more than $400 million in Japan and shattering records.

“Mortal Kombat,” the blood-soaked adaptation of the popular video game, grossed a sizable (for a pandemic) $9 million on Friday and is headed towards an opening weekend of $18 million to $19 million. That’s an impressive sum given the public health crisis, and is also notable because “Mortal Kombat” carries an R rating, somewhat limiting its potential audience. The film is screening in 3,073 venues, a far wider footprint than the one enjoyed by “Demon Slayer.”

The Warner Bros. release is debuting simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. It’s part of the studio’s gambit to shake up the way it’s distributing its films in the COVID era. All of Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate will debut on the streaming service at the same time the films premiere in theaters — the strategy is designed to bolster HBO Max at a time when it is trying to make a name for itself in the crowded streaming space.

“Godzilla vs. Kong,” a Warner Bros. and Legendary release, came in third with just over $1.1 million. The monster mashup has earned $83.5 million over its first four weeks.

Theaters have begun slowly reopening as vaccination rates rise, but major markets such as New York City and Los Angeles are still operating at reduced capacity.

“Mortal Kombat” cost $55 million to produce. It is directed by Simon McQuoid, who is making his feature debut, and stars Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim and Hiroyuki Sanada. The game, which first appeared in 1992 and was controversial for its violence, inspired two previous films, one that opened in 1995 and a follow-up, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” which hit theaters in 1997.

Among other wide releases, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned $400,000 on Friday, pushing its domestic total to $38.6 million after 8 weeks. The movie is also available for rent via Disney Plus.