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Beyonce’s Renaissance is No 1 at North American box office with US$21 million debut

Beyonce ruled the box office this weekend. Her concert picture, Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce, opened in first place with US$21 million (S$28 million) in North American ticket sales, according to estimates from AMC Theatres on Sunday (Dec 3).

The post-Thanksgiving, early December box office is notoriously slow, but Renaissance defied the odds. Not accounting for inflation, it’s the first time a film has opened over US$20 million on this weekend in 20 years (since The Last Samurai).

Beyonce wrote, directed and produced Renaissance, which is focused on the tour for her Grammy-winning album. It debuted in 2,539 theatres in the US and Canada, as well as 94 international territories, where it earned US$6.4 million from 2,621 theatres.

“On behalf of AMC Theatres Distribution and the entire theatrical industry, we thank Beyonce for bringing this incredible film directly to her fans,” said Elizabeth Frank, AMC Theatres executive vice president of worldwide programming, in a statement. “To see it resonate with fans and with film critics on a weekend that many in the industry typically neglect is a testament to her immense talent, not just as a performer, but as a producer and director.”

Though Renaissance did not come close to matching the US$92.8 million debut of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in October, it’s still a very good start for a concert film. No one expected Renaissance to match The Eras Tour, which is wrapping up its theatrical run soon with over US$250 million globally. Prior to Swift, the biggest concert film debuts (titles held by Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber for their 2008 and 2011 films) had not surpassed the unadjusted sum of US$32 million.

The 39-city, 56-show Renaissance tour, which kicked off in Stockholm, Sweden in May and ended in Kansas City, Missouri in the fall, made over US$500 million and attracted over 2.7 million concertgoers. Swift’s ongoing Eras Tour, with 151 dates, is expected to gross some US$1.4 billion.

Both Beyonce and Swift chose to partner with AMC Theatres to distribute their films, as opposed to a traditional studio. Both superstars have been supportive of one another, making splashy appearances at the other’s premieres. Both had previously released films on Netflix (Miss Americana and Homecoming). And both are reported to be receiving at least 50 per cent of ticket sales.

Movie tickets to the show were more expensive than average, around US$23.32 versus Swift’s US$20.78, according to data firm EntTelligence.

Critics and audiences gave Renaissance glowing reviews – it’s sitting at 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and got a coveted A+ CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences who were polled. EntTelligence also estimates that the audience, around 900,000 strong, skewed a little older than Swift’s.

Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes fell to second place in its third weekend with an estimated US$14.5 million. The prequel has now earned over US$121 million domestically.

Godzilla Minus One is expected to take third place on the North American charts. The well-reviewed Japanses blockbuster distributed by Toho International cost only US$15 million to produce and has already earned US$23 million in Japan. Toho’s 33rd Godzilla film is set in the aftermath of World War II, stars Ryunosuke Kamiki and was directed by Takashi Yamazaki.

Trolls Band Together landed in fourth place in its third weekend with US$7.6 million, bringing its domestic total to US$74.8 million.

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