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Box Office: ‘Bob Marley’ Leads Over ‘Demon Slayer’ as ‘Ordinary Angels’ and ‘Drive-Away Dolls’ Stumble

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Paramount’s musical biopic “Bob Marley: One Love” ruled again over a barren box office landscape.

The film added $13.5 million from 3,925 North American theaters in its second weekend of release, a 53% decline from its debut. “One Love” has been a surprise box office success with $71.1 million domestically and $120 million globally. It cost $70 million, and the studio only gets to keep roughly half of ticket sales, so it’ll need to keep singing in theaters to justify its cost.

“Bob Marley” topped the charts for the second consecutive weekend despite three new releases. Sony and Crunchyroll’s anime sequel “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Hashira Training” fared the best among newcomers with $11.5 million from 1,949 theaters — enough for the No. 2 spot.

Hilary Swank’s inspirational drama “Ordinary Angels” opened in third place with an uninspired $6.2 million from 3,020 venues, while director Ethan Coen’s comedic thriller “Drive-Away Dolls” crash-landed in eighth place with a grim $2.5 million from 2,280 locations.

For “Demon Slayer,” its initial ticket sales are slightly better than its predecessor, 2023’s anime adventure “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Swordsmith Village” ($10.1 million in its initial weekend) but far behind 2021’s “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” (an impressive $21 million amid pandemic-era theater closures). However, “Mugen Train” was a traditional movie while “Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Hashira Training” is the season three finale (and the start of season four) in the manga TV series. In any case, these anime features tend to play like horror films in terms of ticket sales, with front-loaded performances that drop substantially in subsequent weekends. They also make the majority of their revenues at the international box office.

The faith-based “Ordinary Angels” isn’t exactly igniting the box office, but the Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company film reportedly carries a modest budget in the low double digits. That could help to offset its single-digit debut. Audiences — 60% were female and 91% were older than 25 — responded enthusiastically to the movie’s feel-good themes, awarding it an “A+” CinemaScore. (Those high grades are common for films of the faith-based variety.) Directed by Jon Gunn, “Ordinary Angels” is based on the true story of a small-town hairdresser who finds a renewed sense of purpose when she meets a widower who is working to make ends meet for his young daughters.

“When faith-based dramas connect, they can go on a run, and ‘Ordinary Angels’ is set up to do that,” predicts David A. Gross of movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. However, he adds, “Faith-based dramas play almost exclusively in the domestic market, with limited potential overseas.”

Moviegoers did not seem to connect with “Drive-Away Dolls,” which landed a tepid “C” CinemaScore and holds a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes. Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan and Beanie Feldstein star in the R-rated movie, which follows two friends who embark on an impromptu road trip to Florida where they cross paths with some bumbling criminals.

“Drive-Away Dolls” was acquired for $20 million. Focus Features, which produced the queer crime caper with Working Title, opted to grant the film a larger rollout than the average specialty release. Indie films often launch in a smattering of theaters to generate word of mouth before expanding nationwide. In this case, the studios say they wanted a bigger footprint from the jump because there’s not as much competition in the marketplace. Others counter that a platform release wouldn’t help a film that received such negative reviews.

Elsewhere, “Madame Web” couldn’t overcome its terrible reception and dropped to fourth place. It collected $6 million from 4,103 theaters, a harsh 61% decline from its initial outing. Sony’s “Spider-Man” spin-off, starring Dakota Johnson as a paramedic with psychic abilities, cost $80 million and has generated a soft $35 million and $42 million internationally to date. It’s shaping up to be the year’s second major big-budget misfire following Matthew Vaughn’s spy comedy “Argylle,” which cost $200 million and has grossed just $86 million worldwide.

Universal and Illumination’s animated comedy “Migration” rounded out the top five with $3 million from 2,434 venues in its 10th weekend of release. To date, the family film has grossed $120 million at the domestic box office and a solid $268 million worldwide.

Overall, it’s been a sluggish box office weekend with revenues down roughly 18% from 2023. So, movie theater owners have been anxiously awaiting Denis Villeneuve’s big-budget sequel “Dune: Part Two,” which lands on March 1 and is expected to deliver a much-needed box office jolt. 

“The industry has patiently waited for over eight long weekends to finally get to the first blockbuster debut of 2024,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “That is now just one week away.”