"We can lead the box office," star Viola Davis recently told EW. "Black women can be at the center of a narrative and we can lead a global box office and make movies that are meaningful to everybody."

Viola Davis' historical epic The Woman King reigned supreme at the weekend box office.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood's drama about the true story of the Agojie, the all-female army who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey between the 17th to 19th centuries, debuted at No. 1 with $19 million across 3,765 North American theaters, according to Comscore.

In her B review, EW critic Leah Greenblatt called the "stirring reimagining" a "spirited and often thrilling action epic elevated by the regal, rigorous commitment" of Davis, who willed The Woman King's box office success into existence during a recent interview with EW.

"Every part of it was divine and magical," Davis told EW of filming the drama, which also stars Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu, and John Boyega. "You have to understand that when you're fighting for a film to get made, there are moments on the journey that you really go to a dark place within yourself and say, 'It's not going to happen. It's just not going to happen. I dreamed the biggest dream and it's not going to happen.'"

The Woman King
Viola Davis wages war against European colonialism in 'The Woman King'
| Credit: Ilze Kitshoff/TriStar Pictures

"And then it does," the Oscar winner continued. "And you're on that set and you're in the Motherland and you're looking at all these extraordinary actors and you are just loving them, enjoying them." Davis wants The Woman King to inspire audiences to "tap into the warrior spirit within themselves," but also serve as an example of what Black women can do.

"We can lead the box office," she added. "Black women can be at the center of a narrative and we can lead a global box office and make movies that are meaningful to everybody."

Also new to theaters this weekend, Ti West's horror slasher Pearl and the crime mystery See How They Run starring Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell both nabbed spots in the top five. Pearl opened in third place with $3.13 million while See How They Run followed in fourth place with $3.1 million. Barbarian, Zach Cregger's house-rental horror that debuted at No. 1 last week, slipped to No. 2 during its second week, earning an additional $6.3 million. Bullet Train rounded out the top five, earning an additional $2.5 million during its seventh week in theaters.

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