The Woman King Rules The Box Office In Its Opening Weekend

Viola Davis and cast in The Woman King
(Image credit: Sony)

After a couple of light weeks to start September, Hollywood delivered a trio of new wide releases this weekend... though it turns out that only one of them managed to stir up a lot of interest from movie-goers. While Tom George's See How They Run and Ti West's Pearl only managed to bring in a few million dollars respectively, Gina Prince-Bythewood's The Woman King inspired a lot of people to purchase tickets, and it has become the biggest title currently playing on the big screen.

Check out the full Top 10 in the chart below, and join me after for analysis.

The Woman King Weekend Box Office September 16-18, 2022

(Image credit: Sony)
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1. The Woman King*$19,000,000 $19,000,000 Row 0 - Cell 3 3,765
2. Barbarian$6,300,000 $20,915,433 12,340
3. Pearl*$3,124,600 $3,124,600 Row 2 - Cell 3 2,935
4. See How They Run*$3,100,000 $3,100,000 Row 3 - Cell 3 2,404
5.Bullet Train$2,500,000 $96,381,145 32,602
6. Top Gun: Maverick$2,180,477 $709,055,000 42,604
7. DC League Of Super Pets$2,175,000 $87,860,007 62,756
8. The Invitation$1,700,000 $21,468,901 52,425
9. Minions: The Rise Of Gru$1,320,000 $364,099,540 91,970
10. Moonage Daydream*$1,225,000 $1,225,000 Row 9 - Cell 3 170

The Woman King Easily Wins The Weekend Box Office With An Estimated $19 Million

Thanks to its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Woman King had a full week of big buzz building before its arrival in theaters this weekend, and it would appear that the positive word of mouth did it a lot of favors. The movie played in over 3,700 locations domestically in the last three days, and estimates are saying that it has made $19 million thus far. 

It's not exactly a record-breaking haul (The Woman King is now ranked as the 22nd biggest opening weekend of 2022 thus far), but larger context showcases it as a solid win. The movie isn't based on any pre-existing media, and has essentially been sold to audiences on its premise, buzz, and the star power of Viola Davis. It's not often that we see projects like that from modern Hollywood make nearly $20 million in their first three days of release, and yet it looks like the new release made more in its debut than movies like Olivia Newman's Where The Crawdads Sing ($17.3 million), Julian Fellowes' Downton Abbey: A New Era ($16 million), and Kenneth Branagh's Death On The Nile ($12.9 million).

Viola Davis and tribe in The Woman King

(Image credit: Sony)

Admittedly The Woman King does still have to make a lot of money before its considered a true financial success. Variety says that the film was made with a reported budget of $50 million, so the historical drama is going to need to stick around in the Top 10 for a few weeks before it starts generating real profit. That being said, with its 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an "A+" grade from CinemaScore, one doesn't have to struggle to imagine enthusiastic movie-goers recommending the cinematic adventure to friends and loved ones, inspiring them to check it out in the weeks to come.

As far as competition is concerned, The Woman King ironically will be going up against another original, high-profile festival release next week with the arrival of Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling in theaters on Friday. One thing that notably sets them apart is that while The Woman King has earned a lot of acclaim, the reception of new film starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Chris Pine has been much more critical – so it will be interesting to see what happens when the two titles square off at the box office.

Pearl And See How They Run Are In A Battle For Third Place

Exciting as it is to see The Woman King do so well at the box office, it also needs to be said that looking at the rest of the Top 10 is pretty distressing  – and that includes looking at the other aforementioned wide releases that hit cinemas this past Friday. Based on figures reported by The Numbers, Pearl and See How They Run are in a battle for third place, and it's a close race because neither the horror movie nor the mystery managed to putt a lot of butts in seats in the last three days.

In regards to the former, it's hard to imagine that A24 is over the moon about the results. Starring Mia Goth, Pearl is a prequel to Ti West's X, which first hit theaters back in March, and while the new release did better as far as ranking compared to its predecessor, its ticket sales are comparatively down. X made $4.3 million when it opened in fourth place, and it looks like the follow-up has only made $3.1 million in its first weekend. Regardless, West is going to be getting an opportunity to make a third film in the series, as MaXXXine being announced last week.

As for See How They Run, there was probably hopes among the filmmakers and within the studio that the movie would be a new whodunit hit a la Kenneth Branagh's Murder On The Orient Express or Rian Johnson's Knives Out, but fate didn't have such a positive outcome for it. Like with Pearl, early estimates say that it has only made $3.1 million this weekend, and we'll have to wait and see the final numbers before determining its true ranking.

Barbarian Has A Stellar Week-To-Week Drop As It Moves To Second Place

As for the holdovers from previous weeks, the most exciting storyline from this weekend's box office results is the performance by Zach Cregger's Barbarian. In last Sunday's column, I highlighted the stark contrast between critical and audience reception of the film and pondered how it might impact its legs at the box office... and it turns out the early results are phenomenal. From weekend-to-weekend, the movie's earnings only dropped 40 percent, bringing its domestic total to $20.9 million thus far. That means it has already basically doubled its reported budget at the box office – and one can assume the money will keep rolling in as we get closer to Halloween and audiences only get more in the mood for spooky cinema.

Looking ahead, audiences will not only be able to catch Don't Worry Darling in theaters on Friday, but James Cameron's Avatar will also be getting a special re-release – giving the highest-grossing blockbuster of all time an opportunity to make even more money before the arrival of the sequel, Avatar: The Way Of Water, in December. Head back here next Sunday to discover how the films shake up the Top 10, and check out our 2022 Movie Release Calendar to learn about all of the features coming out between now and the end of December. 

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.