Zendaya’s Tennis Romance ‘Challengers’ Aces Box Office with $15 Million Haul

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An intoxicating cocktail of tennis, drama, and romance, “Challengers” aced the competition at the box office, raking in an impressive $15 million over the weekend. Spearheaded by the enchanting Zendaya, the film draws audiences into a world of fiery rivalries and passionate love triangles, set amidst the thrilling backdrop of competitive tennis.

Fresh off a high-stakes publicity tour that spanned continents, Zendaya, along with co-stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, helped catapult Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s film to rave reviews and commercial success. With the movie opening in 3,477 venues across the U.S and Canada, the excitement in theaters was palpable.

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Kevin Wilson, the man in charge of theatrical distribution for Amazon Studios and MGM, expressed his satisfaction with these results. Audiences, he noted, were predominantly young and female – over half the moviegoers were women, and a sizable 41% fell within the 18-24 age range.

A major contributing factor to the box office triumph was the large format screen experience, including IMAX, accounting for almost 40% of the gross income over the weekend. Also noteworthy was the role of the film’s star, Zendaya, in drawing crowds, with 55% of audiences citing her as their reason for watching the film. Her presence undeniably pulls a crowd, with her films making up 26% of the overall box office this weekend, including the re-release of “Dune: Part Two” in IMAX.

Known for her roles in mammoth franchises like “Spider-Man” and “Dune”, Zendaya’s star power extends beyond the silver screen. Her red-carpet appearances often make heads turn, but “Challengers” presents a new test; could she singlehandedly ‘carry’ a film to success? Amazon and MGM were more than happy to take that gamble.

Originally slated for a fall 2023 release at the ethereal Venice Film Festival, plans had to change when the stars went on strike last July. The studio instead opted for a safer path, rescheduling the release for a time when the strike would almost certainly have ended. Decked out in tennis-themed ensembles by Law Roach, Zendaya glowed on every appearance she made.

Guadagnino’s latest venture is paying off handsomely, garnering largely positive reviews and a favorable 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, coupled with a B+ CinemaScore. Already, “Challengers” is poised to outdo his previous films, including “Call Me By Your Name,” grossing more midway through its run than “Bones And All,” starring Zendaya’s “Dune” co-star Timothée Chalamet, made in its entire run.

For Amazon MGM Studios, the hype and success surrounding “Challengers” isn’t just about box office triumph. It also signals promising future prospects when the film eventually lands on Prime Video, ensuring value beyond mere theatrics.

Hot on the trail of the leading film, faith-based flick “Unsung Hero” landed second place, pulling in a commendable $7.8 million from its 2,832 run locations. The esteemed third place was claimed by “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” generating $7.2 million in its fifth weekend. Thriller “Civil War” took fourth place with $7 million, and horror film “Abigail” rounded out the impressive top five with a $5.3 million haul.

In sum, spring 2024 has proven a great season for moviegoers seeking a divergent experience from the typical summer blockbusters, as noted by Comscore’s senior media analyst, Paul Dergarabedian.

As we head into the summer season of cinema, Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt prepare to kick things off with their anticipated action-comedy “The Fall Guy.” The box office waits with bated breath.