Hollywood Movies

Monkey Man, First Omen Opening Lower Than Expected

April 6, 20243 Mins Read

Dev Patel‘s feature directorial debut Monkey Man is successfully fighting off The First Omen at the domestic box office, but both films are coming in lower than expected, according to Saturday estimates.

Neither genre film has any chance of taking away the No. 1 spot from Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, which is a huge victory for the MonsterVerse series at a time when many franchises are struggling to remain fresh. One problem overall: a glut of male-skewing projects. Although, The First Omen hopes to lure younger women as well.

Presented by Universal and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Monkey Man grossed $4.1 million on Friday for a projected debut of $10.5 million, good enough for a second-place finish. Heading into the weekend, tracking services and Universal predicted a debut in the $12 million to $14 million range.

Still, $10 million isn’t a bad number for a film that secured studio distribution at the 11th hour at the urging of Peele and only had a truncated runway to market. Universal smartly debuted Monkey Man at South-by-Southwest, where it received a rousing response from the audience, influencers and critics.

However, the reaction among regular audience members was a bit more tame; Monkey Man earned a B+ CinemaScore from Friday ticket buyers and divided exits on PostTrak surveys. Its Rotten Tomatoes score initially hovered around 94 percent but then dropped to 86 percent. (The First Omen’s RT score isn’t too far behind at 81 percent.)

Patel’s film is inspired by the John Wick series and the legend of Hanuman, an icon embodying strength and courage. In addition to directing, Patel stars in the violence-laced, R-rated film as an anonymous young man wearing a gorilla mask who ekes out a meager living working night after night in an underground fight club when he discovers a way to infiltrate the elite group responsible for his mother’s death and exact his retribution. In doing so, he also helps rescue the city’s poor and powerless.

The First Omen, a prequel to Richard Donner’s 1976 film, grossed $3.2 million Friday for a projected weekend opening of $8.3 million, likely putting it at No. 4 behind Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Some also show Kung Fu Panda 4 in a close battle with First Omen for fourth place.

The First Omen stars Nell Tiger Free as a young American woman who is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the Catholic church when she encounters a darkness that causes her to question her own faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.

Filmmaker Arkasha Stevenson directed First Omen from a script she wrote with Tim Smith and Keith Thomas. Ben Jacoby has a story by credit, while the film is based on characters created by David Seltzer. The cast also includes Tawfeek Barhom, Sonia Braga, Ralph Ineson and Bill Nighy.

Overseas, Stevenson’s film is opening in almost every key market this weekend, while Monkey Man will roll out more slowly, beginning with 27 markets timed to its North American release.

Numbers will be updated Sunday.

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