Zendaya’s “Challengers” Smashes Competition With $15M Debut at Box Office

“Challengers,” starring Zendaya and directed by Luca Guadagnino, clinched the top spot at the box office this weekend, garnering $15 million from 3,477 theaters. The film is poised to become Guadagnino’s highest-grossing domestic release, surpassing “Call Me By Your Name” by midweek. This romantic tennis drama marks the second strongest opening for an original R-rated drama post-pandemic, only behind “Don’t Worry Darling.”

MGM Amazon Studios took a strategic leap by releasing this arthouse-leaning drama nationwide rather than opting for a platform release. This move aims to broaden its appeal among Zendaya’s substantial fanbase and entice new subscribers to Amazon’s Prime streaming service. It’s also a play to maintain the satisfaction levels of current subscribers.

Internationally, “Challengers” impressed with $9 million across 52 markets, bringing its global haul to $25 million. The U.K. led with $1.8 million, outpacing other contenders like “Poor Things” and “Air.”

Despite favorable critical reviews, the audience’s reception has been slightly more reserved, with a CinemaScore of B+. The film attracted a predominantly young, ethnically diverse crowd, with 58% of its opening day audience being female and 76% aged between 18 and 34.

Co-starring Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, “Challengers” explores the complexities of love and ambition in the world of professional tennis. Notably, 37% of its opening weekend revenue came from premium-format screens like Imax.

The film’s release was initially planned for last year’s awards season but was postponed due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, which also prevented talent from participating in press activities. Zendaya’s significant social media influence was crucial for the film’s promotional strategy, which exhibitors have noted as a positive embrace of the theatrical model by Amazon.

Wrapping Up

As “Challengers” sets new records for Luca Guadagnino, the film industry anticipates its ongoing performance with keen interest. For more updates on this and other trending movies, visit HITPLAY.

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