“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” topped the box office in its debut, surpassing expectations by collecting an impressive $21 million in ticket sales in North America.
The anime movie, playing on 3,007 screens, is distributed domestically by Crunchyroll, which specializes in anime movies and TV. “Super Hero” is a much-needed bright spot in an otherwise dismal August at the box office. The latest installment of “Dragon Ball Super” earned twice as much as the weekend’s other new domestic release, Universal’s survival thriller “Beast,” starring Idris Elba. To mixed reviews, “Beast” opened to a modest $11.5 million from 3,743 North American theaters.
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“We are absolutely thrilled that ‘Dragon Ball’ fans could come together to experience and enjoy this amazing movie in theaters,” said Mitchel Berger, Crunchyroll’s senior vice president of global commerce. “Crunchyroll appreciates all fans, whether you’re a ‘super’ fan or a newcomer, and we hope they’ll come back again and again.”
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” is the latest example of the passionate audience for anime movies in the United States. Crunchyroll, which is owned by Sony Pictures, owns the market in North America. Earlier this year, the company’s PG-13 “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” scored a remarkable $17.6 million in its debut, while 2021 release “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” brought in $21.2 million to start, which which is even more impressive since the cinemas were still operating at reduced capacity at the time. However, anime features tend to play like horror movies in terms of ticket sales, with the obvious shows taking a significant dip after the first week of release.
Directed by Tetsuro Kodama, the critically acclaimed ‘Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero’ benefited from its presence in premium formats including Imax, 4DX and Dolby Cinemas. The film played on 327 Imax screens, accounting for $3.4 million in domestic ticket sales. At Imax, these returns rank as the widest and highest-grossing opening weekend for an anime film. For CJ 4DPlex, a South Korean company specializing in immersive multi-sensory technology, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” also set an anime record in the format with $525,000 from 51 domestic screens.
“This is another great Crunchyroll anime opening. This has become an impressive theatrical business,” says David A. Gross, who runs the film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research. But, he adds, “Crunchyroll movies play fast in the US. Their domestic multiples are low.”
Like critics, audiences were similarly mixed on “Beast,” giving the film a so-so “B” CinemaScore. Directed by Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur (“Adrift”), “Beast” follows a father and his two teenage daughters (Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries), who find themselves being chased by a giant rogue lion. The film, which cost $36 million to produce, has grossed $10.2 million to date at the international box office.
Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, is encouraged that “Beast” has caught on with a wide audience. Among opening weekend crowds, 34% were African-American, 26% were Caucasian, 23% were Hispanic, and 10% were Asian. Meanwhile, 47% of ticket buyers were over 35, skewing slightly older than expected.
“It’s great to see,” says Orr, referring to the audience breakdown. “It’s a very good start to what I’m sure will be a great run.”
Elsewhere on the domestic box office charts, Sony’s action thriller “Bullet Train” slipped to third place after two straight weekends at No. 1. The film brought in $8 million from 3,781 locations in its third weekend of release, lifting the tally in the domestic market at $68.9 million. That’s a decent result for a non-franchise star-driven action film in today’s fractured cinematic landscape. But it cost $90 million to make — and many millions more to market to the masses — meaning it needs to keep running in theaters to justify its hefty budget. “Bullet Train” has grossed $81 million overseas and $150 million worldwide.
In fourth place, Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” collected $5.85 million from 2,969 locations in its 13th weekend of release. The Tom Cruise action sequel, which hits home entertainment in the coming days, has grossed an impressive $683 million to date, enough to surpass Marvel’s 2018 superhero epic “Avengers: Infinity War” ($678 million) as the sixth highest grossing domestic release in history. For those watching at home, it’s only $17 million away from taking the No. 5 spot, “Black Panther” ($700 million). Since opening in theaters over Memorial Day weekend, “Maverick” has spent just one weekend outside the top five at the North American box office.
The animated adventure from Warner Bros. “DC League of Super-Pets” took No. 5 with $5.77 million from 3,537 locations. After four weeks in theaters, the family film has grossed $66.4 million in North America.
On the independent scene, A24’s slasher satire “Bodies Bodies Bodies” took 10th place on the domestic charts, adding $2.4 million from 2,541 theaters. The film, which has been slowly expanding its footprint in recent weeks, has grossed $7.4 million to date.
In far fewer theaters, Paramount’s psychological horror film “Orphan: First Kill” grossed $1.6 million from just 498 venues. The prequel to 2009’s “Orphan” has such a limited screen count because it debuted simultaneously on digital platforms and on Paramount+, the studio’s streaming service.
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