The real combat is happening at the domestic box office.
Mortal Kombat may include a lot of fight scenes, but the real kombat is happening at the domestic box office. On the one corner is an anticipated video game adaptation. On the other corner is a much-anticipated anime adaptation, Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train. The real winner? Fans of cool action.
For a movie that was released in theaters simultaneously as it was released on streaming, New Line’s second attempt at a live-action Mortal Kombat adaptation came out of the gate swinging. The Simon McQuoid-directed film debuted with an impressive $9.03 million on Friday, as people start getting vaccinated and more theaters open nationwide, ready to serve some R-rated violence (just don’t call it a “fatality”) to fans hungry for it. While reviews have been mixed on Mortal Kombat, the pre-existing fan base of the video game franchise, as well as those looking to watch the latest big-budget blockbuster, seem to be drawn to watching this adaptation on the biggest screens they can find.
But a new challenger approaches, and it’s packing a huge and excited fanbase and lots of box office record-breaking belts. Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train already made headlines months before reaching U.S. theaters by becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film ever, and it seems like North American fans were as eager to watch the story of the titular demon-slaying Tanjiro and his friends as they board a train attacked by demons, as fans overseas. The anime film continuation earned a whopping $9.5 million, beating Mortal Kombat with a much lower budget and just about half the screens. That being said, Demon Slayer had previews on Thursday while Mortal Kombat did not, so the tale of Sub-Zero and Scorpion still comes out a bit ahead.
Time will tell how far these films go at the domestic box office, but one thing is certain — this is a great time to be a fan of seeing cartoonish characters fight to the death with cool and over-the-top visuals. Will Mortal Kombat beat Godzilla vs. Kong‘s impressive run? Will Demon Slayer dominate the U.S. animated film box office records as it did in Japan? As one charming and totally not suspicious senator from Naboo once said, “we will watch your career with great interest.”
Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer are currently playing in theaters.
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Simon McQuoid’s new adaptation is a mostly joyless slog that can’t even deliver exhilarating fights.
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