“Creed III” emerged victorious at the box office with its impressive $58.7 million debut, setting a franchise record while dethroning two-time domestic charts champ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
The film kicked off internationally with $41.8 million, bringing its global tally to a knockout $100.4 million.
It’s also a big win for theater owners, who are banking on the good fortunes to continue in March with upcoming releases “Scream VI,” “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” and “John Wick: Chapter 4.” Overall ticket sales are 37% ahead of the same point in 2022, according to Comscore.
Heading into the weekend, “Creed III” was projected to earn $36 million to $40 million, which already would have been enough to establish a new high-water mark for the series. The first “Creed,” which re-launched the decades-old “Rocky” films in 2015, powered to $29.6 million, while its 2018 sequel “Creed II” opened to $35.5 million.
But the third installment, directed by series star Michael B. Jordan in his feature filmmaking debut, got a boost from stellar reviews and strong audience scores. Initial ticket buyers, who awarded the film an “A-” CinemaScore, were 63% male while 55% were between the ages of 18 and 34. The movie brought out diverse audiences, as 23% were white, 28% were Latino, 36% were Black and 13% were Asian, according to PostTrak data.
“Creed III” also benefitted from pricier Imax tickets (a huge 38% of business came from premium large format screens), as well as a better-than-expected turnout on Friday with $22 million alone.
“Michael did an excellent job launching this film and, in doing so, offering further proof that the box office is back and ready to support this year’s strong, diversified slate,” says Imax CEO Rich Gelfond.
The $75 million-budgeted “Creed III” is the most expensive film in the trilogy (its predecessors cost $35 million and $50 million, respectively), but box office analysts are optimistic about its theatrical run.
Jordan stars in the movie as heavyweight champ Adonis Creed, son of boxing legend Apollo Creed, alongside Jonathan Majors as his childhood friend-turned-rival. It’s the first entry in the long-running series without Sylvester Stallone, who originated the role of Rocky Balboa and returned in the spinoffs as a mentor to Adonis. His absence didn’t appear to impact ticket sales.
“After six ‘Rockys’ and two previous ‘Creeds,’ the story continues to resonate and business is up — it’s impressive,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Weekends like this are good news for the industry.”
It’s a big weekend for Majors, who stars in the No. 1 and No. 2 movies at the domestic box office. In a distant second place, Marvel’s superhero adventure “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” collected roughly $12 million from 3,825 venues, marking a 61% decline. So far, the movie — led by Paul Rudd as the title Avenger — has generated $186 million in North America, outpacing the original “Ant-Man,” which ended its theatrical run with $180 million domestically. It’ll likely also surpass the 2018 sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which left North American theaters with $216 million.
But globally, “Quantumania” has only generated $420 million and may end its run as the lowest-grossing “Ant-Man” installment. The first movie earned $519 million globally while the follow-up amassed $622 million globally. At this rate, the poorly reviewed threequel will struggle to hit the $500 million mark, a milestone that’s usually a guarantee for Marvel.
At No. 3, Universal’s horror-comedy “Cocaine Bear” added $11 million from 3,571 theaters in its second weekend of release, a 53% drop from its debut. The blood-splattered animal adventure, directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring a bear on (you guessed it) cocaine, has grossed a solid $41 million to date. Overseas, “Cocaine Bear” has amassed $10 million for a global total of $52 million.
Crunchyroll’s “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba: To the Swordsmith Village” opened in fourth place with $10.1 million from 1,774 venues, landing on the higher end of expectations. Already, the anime film has generated $23 million in Japan. It’s another strong start for Sony’s specialty distributor Crunchyroll, though its offerings usually see especially steep drops after opening weekend.
Lionsgate’s religious drama “Jesus Revolution” rounded out the top five with $8.3 million from 2,575 theaters in its sophomore outing, a 46% drop from its opening weekend. The faith-based film continues to appeal to its target audience, generating a promising $30.5 million to date.
Another new release, Guy Ritchie’s action-comedy “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” fell short of expectations with a disappointing $3.1 million from 2,168 venues. It landed in seventh place on box office charts behind “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which is now in its 12th weekend of release.
Jason Statham stars in the R-rated “Operation Fortune” as a super-spy who must track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology wielded by a billionaire arms broker (Hugh Grant). Lionsgate picked up the $50 million-budgeted film for domestic distribution from Miramax, which co-produced the film with STX Entertainment.
“This is a weak opening for an action thriller,” says Franchise Entertainment Research’s Gross. “In fairness, ‘Operation Fortune’ was completed in late 2021, but was delayed due to producer-distributor STX’s financial problems.”