Steven Spielberg is the high scorer at the box office this Easter weekend. The director’s retrofuturistic sci-fi adventure Ready Player One is on track to debut with about $41.2 million from 4,234 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday to Sunday, easily outpacing fellow new release Acrimony and holdovers including Pacific Rim Uprising and Black Panther.
Factoring in Thursday, when Ready Player One officially launched, the film is headed for a $53.2 million bow. That’s a solid, if not spectacular start for a film that reportedly cost between $150 million and $175 million to produce, and it marks the second-best opening of the year, behind Black Panther. Ready Player One is also doing brisk business overseas, grossing an estimated $128 million in 62 territories this weekend, including $61.7 million in China.
Directed by Spielberg and based on the novel by Ernest Cline (who cowrote the script with Zak Penn), Ready Player One received generally positive reviews from critics and an A-minus CinemaScore from moviegoers, suggesting good word-of-mouth potential.
The Warner Bros. release stars Tye Sheridan as a high school student in a dystopian future who embarks on a digital quest to win dominion over the Oasis, an immensely popular virtual-reality world infused with ’80s and ’90s pop culture nostalgia. The cast also includes Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, and Mark Rylance.
Coming in second place is Tyler Perry’s psychological thriller Acrimony, with an estimated $17.1 million from 2,006 theaters. The Lionsgate release will surpass industry projections, which had it in the $10 million range.
Starring Taraji P. Henson as a faithful wife who unleashes her fury on her deceitful husband (Lyriq Bent), the movie garnered poor reviews but an A-minus CinemaScore.
In third place, Disney’s superhero blockbuster Black Panther is poised to earn about $11.2 million over its seventh weekend, pushing its domestic total north of $650 million. It will likely pass Jurassic World ($652.2 million) and Titanic ($659.3 million) to become the No. 3 domestic release of all time, not adjusted for inflation.
Rounding out the top five are Roadside Attractions’ faith-based drama I Can Only Imagine, with an estimated $10.75 million, and Universal and Legendary’s robots-vs.-monsters flick Pacific Rim Uprising, with an estimated $9.2 million. The latter figure represents a steep 67 percent drop for last week’s box office champ.
The weekend’s other new major release, Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, will land at No. 12 with about $2.6 million from 1,693 theaters.
The third installment in the God’s Not Dead series centers on a pastor (David A.R. White) and his congregation who are displaced when their church burns down and then battle the state university that owns the land while attempting to rebuild. A Light in Darkness’ debut will fall short of both the original God’s Not Dead, which opened to $9.2 million in 2014, and God’s Not Dead 2, which opened to $7.6 million two years later. Moviegoers gave A Light in Darkness an A-minus CinemaScore.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight expanded Wes Anderson’s stop-motion movie Isle of Dogs into 138 additional theaters this weekend (for a total of 165), earning about $2.8 million and bringing its total to $5.9 million. The film will continue to expand in the coming weeks.
According to ComScore, overall box office is down 3.7 percent year-to-date. Check out the March 30-April 1 figures below.
1. Ready Player One — $41.2 million
2. Acrimony — $17.1 million
3. Black Panther — $11.3 million
4. I Can Only Imagine — $10.8 million
5. Pacific Rim Uprising — $9.2 million
6. Sherlock Gnomes — $7 million
7. Love, Simon — $4.8 million
8. Tomb Raider — $4.7 million
9. A Wrinkle in Time — $4.7 million
10. Paul, Apostle of Christ — $3.5 million