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‘Civil War’ continues box office campaign at No. 1

NEW YORK (AP) — “Civil War,” Alex Garland’s ominous American dystopia, remained the top film in theaters in its second week of release, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The A24 election-year gamble, the indie studio’s biggest budgeted film yet, took in $11.1 million in ticket sales at 3,929 theaters over the weekend. The $50 million film, set in a near-future US in which Texas and California have joined in rebellion against a fascist president, has grossed $44.9 million in two weeks.

Its provocative premise – and A24’s marketing, which included images of US cities ravaged by war – helped keep “Civil War” top of mind for moviegoers.

But it was a painfully slow weekend in theaters – the kind sure to add to concern about what’s thus far been a down year for Hollywood at the box office.

Going into the weekend, Universal Pictures’ “Abigail,” a critically acclaimed R-rated horror film about the daughter of Dracula, had been expected to lead ticket sales. It came in second with $10.2 million in 3,384 theaters.

That was still a fair result for a film that cost a modest $28 million to make. “Abigail,” which remakes the 1936 monster film “Dracula’s Daughter,” is about a 12-year-old girl taken by kidnappers who soon realize they’ve made a poor choice of hosting. It’s directed by the duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett whose production company goes by the name Radio Silence.

More concerning was the overall tepid response for a handful of new wide releases – and the likelihood that there will be more similar weekends throughout 2024. Last year’s actors and writers’ strikes, which had a prolonged effect on the movie pipeline, exacerbated holes in Hollywood’s release schedule.

Horror films, in recent years among the most reliable cash cows in theaters, also haven’t thus far been doing the automatic business they previous did. According to David A. Gross, who runs the consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, horror releases accounted for $2 billion in worldwide sales in 2023.

Guy Ritchie’s “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” debuted with $9 million in 2,845 theaters. In the based-on-a-true-story Lionsgate release, which reportedly cost $60 million to produce, Henry Cavill leads a World War II mission off the coast of West Africa.

Though Ritchie has been behind numerous box-office hits, including the live-action “Aladdin” and a pair of Sherlock Holmes films, his recent movies have struggled to find big audiences. The Lionsgate spy comedy “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” grossed $48 million against a $50 million budget, while MGM’s “The Covenant,” also released last year, made $21 million while costing $55 million to make.

A bright sign for “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”: audiences liked it. The film earned an A-minus CinemaScore.

The anime “Spy x Family Code: White,” from Sony’s Crunchyroll, also struggled to stand out with audiences. Though the adaptation of the Tatsuya Endo manga TV series “Spy x Family” has already been a hit with international moviegoers, it debuted below expectations with $4.9 million in 2,009 US theaters.

The mightiest film globally, though, continues to be “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” The Warner Bros. monster movie has led worldwide ticket sales for the past month. It added another $9.5 million domestically and $21.6 million internationally to bring its four-week global total to $485.2 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Civil War,” $11.1 million.

2. “Abigail,” $10.2 million.

3. “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” $9.5 million.

4. “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” $9 million.

5. “Spy x Family Code: White,” $4.9 million.

6. “Kung Fu Panda 4,” $4.6 million.

7. “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” $4.4 million.

8. “Dune: Part Two,” $2.9 million.

9. “Monkey Man,” $2.2 million.

10. “The First Omen,” $1.7 million.

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