Slow MPAA Ratings Update While Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer Form Potent Box Office Punch

By Chris Kavan - 04/28/21 at 09:55 AM CT

After Godzilla vs. Kong provided a much needed shot in the arm to the box office, this week provided more encouraging news that maybe people are willing to get back out to theaters. While Mortal Kombat was the top draw (despite middling reviews and its availability on HBO Max) it has some surprisingly fierce competition in the form of the anime Demon Slayer, which was close on its heels. Combined, the two films helped boost the box office to the best overall weekend since the pandemic took hold.

Director Simon McQuoid wanted his version of Mortal Kombat to feel more like the video game franchise so many people have grown up with: that is visceral and bloody - really earning that R rating along the way. And he delivered and while critics seemed split, audiences were more than happy to show up and the film took the box office crown with $23.3 million (the original Mortal Kombat opened to $23.5 million), awarding the film a solid "B+" Cinemascore. Even more impressive is when you factor in the 3.8 million people who reportedly streamed this on HBO Max. It blew away estimates (some had it tracking just around $13 million) and with $27.8 million overseas, sits at a comfortable $51.1 million worldwide.

While I think many thought Mortal Kombat would be a hit, I think the strong second-place showing of Demon Slayer was the bigger story. After becoming a runaway hit in Japan (where is grossed over $400 million, becoming the nation's highest-grossing movie of all time), the cult anime, even after being slapped with an R-rating, took America by storm with a $21.1 million opening. That is the biggest opening for a foreign-language film in the U.S., easily toppling Hero's $17.8 million back in 2002. It also had the highest per-theater average ($12,213 per-screen average in 1,600 theaters) since Sonic the Hedgehog over a year ago. Anime films tend to be front-loaded on average but even still, it should be enough to place in the top three of all time, just above Dragon Ball Super: Brolly ($30.7 million) and behind Pokémon: The Movie ($43.7 million).

In third place, Godzilla vs. Kong lost a bit of steam to the two newcomers, dipping 45.3% and taking in about $4.3 million for a new $86.6 million domestic total. It is still streaming on HBO Max for the time being, but its one-month window is about to close, so we'll see if that has any bearing on its future box office numbers. It should still have much of May to draw in audiences, and it will be a toss-up whether it can hit $100 million stateside or not. With $320 million overseas, it topped $400 million for a $406.6 million total to date.

In fourth place, Nobody managed to inch out Raya and the Last Dragon with $1.742 million (down 30.3%) for a new $21.55 million total. Adding in $16.5 million overseas, the film has more than doubled its reported $15 million budget with $38,2 million total. We'll see if Bob Odenkirk's suburban Wick can spawn the Covid-era's first new franchise.

A whisker below, Raya and the Last Dragon rounded out the top five with $1.741 million, down a light 9.4% (the best hold among any film in the top 10), giving Pixar's latest a new $39.9 million domestic total with almost $112 million worldwide. With Raya still going relatively strong, we'll see if it has enough gas to eventually top Tom and Jerry ($43.5 million) in the end.

The only other new film of note was the Ed Helms / Patti Harrison ultimate platonic relationship film Together Together, which opened to $532,773 (8th place) on 665 screens for an $801 per-theater average.

Next week the only new wide release is the horror film Separation, which shouldn't post too much of a threat to Mortal Kombat.

After last week's embarrassment of riches on the ratings front, I was hoping for more of the same. Alas, this week is the complete opposite with nary a film to talk about in the MPAA Ratings Bulletin, thus you have a very short list and my wish that things will pick up in the week's ahead.

MPAA Official Logo


Rated PG-13 for violence throughout and thematic elements. (Re-rate from the PG-13 issued in Bulletin 2563 1-31-19)


Rated R for violence, language and drug use.


Rated G


Rated PG for thematic material.


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