The “Woman King” occupies the North American rolling throne

The Viola Davis action epic The Woman King easily won the North American box office in its first…

Viola Davis’ action epic The Woman King easily won the North American box office in its opening weekend in theaters amid a crowded market for new releases. The film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, beat expectations and earned $19 million at the box office, according to Sony estimates on Sunday.

The Woman King was released by Sony and TriStar in 3,765 locations on a $50 million production budget with co-financing from eOne. The film, about the Agoji, the all-female army of the Kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa in the 1800s, received rave reviews after its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. It currently boasts a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And theater audiences seem just as enthusiastic, giving it a rare A+ CinemaScore, indicating strong word-of-mouth in the coming weeks.

“This movie has great reviews, an epic story and a great lead star,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “People want to go to the movies, and audiences have gotten back into the habit of waiting for new movies in theaters.”

20th Century Studios’ horror movie “Barbarian” finished second in its second weekend with $6.3 million.

It was a week full of new releases at the domestic box office, including A24’s horror prequel The Pearl , Searchlight’s star-studded mystery Watch Them Run , David Bowie’s NEON documentary Moonage Daydream , Paramount and Miramax’s Confession . , Fletch” with Jon Hamm and “The Silent Twins” by Focus Features. But even though most of them boasted good reviews, it was a slower week for business overall.

Watch Them Run, a 1950s murder mystery starring Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell, debuts at $3.1 million at 2,404 locations.

Ti West’s “Pearl” also took in about $3.1 million. A24 released the film starring Mia Goth as a farm girl who dreams of movie stardom on 2,935 screens. The first film, “X,” grossed $4.3 million in March, and the studio has already booked a third film, “MaXXXine.”

Brett Morgen’s Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream, meanwhile, debuted exclusively on IMAX screens this weekend, earning $1.2 million in North America and opening at No. 10.

“It may not be a blockbuster-filled corridor, but it’s a great weekend,” Dergarabedian said. “There’s all this talk about a post-summer slump or a slowdown, but there’s a lot of new movies. You just have to look for the gems.”

Next week sees the release of Olivia Wilde’s much-talked-about film Don’t Worry Darling , which could boost the box office. But blockbuster numbers likely won’t return until October or even November, when superhero movies return with Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final internal data will be released on Monday.

1. “Woman-King”, 19 million dollars.

2. “Barbarian”, $6.3 million.

3. “Pearl”, $3.1 million.

4. “Watch Them Run,” $3.1 million.

5. “Bullet Train”, $2.5 million.

6. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $2.2 million.

7. “DC League of Super Pets,” $2.2 million.

8. “The Invitation,” $1.7 million.

9. Minions: The Rise of Gru, $1.3 million.

10. Moonage Daydream, $1.2 million.

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Follow AP staff writer Lindsey Barr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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