The weekend at movie theaters featured something not seen for a while: a genuine box-office battle. Warner Bros.' Mortal Kombat reboot and the Japanese anime film Demon Slayer: Mugen Train vied for the top spot at the North American box office, with Mortal Kombat narrowly winning, the AP reports. The R-rated film earned an estimated $22.5 million, according to studio estimates, while Funimation's Demon Slayer grossed $19.5 million. The two releases fueled the best weekend for movie theaters during the pandemic, with an estimated $54.2 million in ticket sales overall, according to data firm Comscore. Like other 2021 Warner Bros. films, Mortal Kombat debuted simultaneously on HBO Max; the studio's own Godzilla vs. Kong on Sunday crossed $400 million worldwide. In March, Godzilla vs. Kong set a pandemic-best debut with a five-day $48.5 million opening.
The performance of Demon Slayer—Kimetsu No Yaiba—the Movie: Mugen Train was more surprising. The Japanese movie, which played dubbed and with subtitles, is a continuation of the Demon Slayer TV series, which itself comes from a popular manga series. It has already been a massive hit internationally. In Japan, it's the highest-grossing movie ever, with more than $350 million in estimated ticket sales. The two releases, while far from awards material, gave Hollywood something to celebrate ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards. The outlook has been increasingly brightening for movie theaters, which are hoping for a semi-normal summer season, perhaps by late May or early June. A Quiet Place Part II and the Walt Disney Co.'s Cruella are both scheduled for release over Memorial Day weekend.
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