Challengers Aces The Weekend Box Office As Both Dune: Part Two And Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Arrive At Major Milestones

 Zendaya in Challengers.
Zendaya in Challengers.

While 2024 is still young, Zendaya has emerged as a box office success story this year. March was a huge month, as she plays a key part in Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi blockbuster Dune: Part Two, but now she has a more personal and less ensemble-focused win on her resume: after weeks of building exceptionally strong buzz, Luca Guadagnino's tennis-centric romantic drama Challengers has easily taken over the #1 spot in the domestic Top 10, nearly doubling the ticket sales of Joel Smallbone and Richard Ramsey's Unsung Hero in their shared opening weekend and pushing Alex Garland's acclaimed Civil War to third place.

Check out the full chart for the weekend below and join me after for analysis.

Weekend Box Office April 26-28, 2024 Challengers
Weekend Box Office April 26-28, 2024 Challengers

Challengers Easily Wins Its Opening Weekend Battle Against Unsung Hero

If you didn't already notice, April 2024 was a month of minor small releases from Hollywood. While March was loaded up with Dune: Part Two, Mike Mitchell's Kung Fu Panda 4, Gil Kenan's Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire and Adam Wingard's Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the only franchise title that has been released since April 1 was Arkasha Stevenson's The First Omen (a title that was originally heading to streaming before a distribution pivot).  This window has allowed non-IP titles to take the spotlight in the last few weeks, and the latest title to best take advantage is Challengers.

According to The Numbers, the new Zendaya movie made $15 million in ticket sales domestically in the last three days, easily defeating Unsung Hero as its direct competition for the weekend (the faith-based movie made $7.8 million in the last three days). It's far and away the biggest box office success in the career of Luca Guadagnino, as his only previous directorial effort to debut in the Top 10 was 2002's Bones And All, which never rose higher than eighth place. The film has already made nearly as much as 2017's Call Me By Your Name did during its entire domestic run ($18.1 million).

It's a good result for the sexy tennis movie... but it should be noted that it won't immediately be going down as one of Hollywood's big financial success stories in 2024. While $15 million is a good amount of money for an original sports drama (it now stands as the eleventh biggest opening weekend of the year), what dampers high spirits a bit at the moment is that the film wasn't an inexpensive production made with a Blumhouse-esque approach. According to Variety, it had a budget of $55 million, which doesn't include the publicity and marketing costs.

Zendaya in Challengers
Zendaya in Challengers

Circumstances look a bit rosier when one adds in the money that Challengers has made outside the United States and Canada, but that's still a global total of just $25 million. There's still a long road to travel before it becomes a true box office success.

The question now, of course, is how far down that road the film will get. If this were a typical year, it would be said that the movie is about to run into a buzz saw, as May is  the month that kicks off the summer blockbuster season and normally sees the launch of the latest title from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Due to the 2023 Hollywood labor disputes, however, the slate is a bit milder in 2024, so it may still have a chance to compete and linger around in the Top 10 for a while. There is still some serious competition on the way – like David Leitch's The Fall Guy starring Ryan Gosling and Wes Ball's Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes – but nothing that is going to wholly swallow pop culture's attention.

Signs point to Challengers being supported by word of mouth. In addition to getting positive write-ups from critics, CinemaScore surveys returned a strong "B+" grade, and there is a solid 76 percent Audience Rating on Rotten Tomatoes. How far that buzz will take the movie will be reflected in its weekend-to-weekend drop in next Sunday's box office report.

Dune: Part Two Nears $700 Million Worldwide As Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Crosses $500 Million

Challengers and Civil War have been the dominant titles in the Top 10 these past few weeks, but the two biggest blockbusters from last month have continued to rake in cash worldwide in April, and both titles are crossing major worldwide milestones.

Dune: Part Two, for one, continues to look like it may end up being the biggest title of 2024, as it is now just a little over $250,000 shy of making $700 million worldwide. Before the end of its theatrical run, the sequel likely won't be able to double the box office haul of its predecessor, but it will come surprisingly close. In 2021, Denis Villeneuve's Dune made $430.2 million – though its big screen performance was hampered by Warner Bros. giving the blockbuster a day-and-date release on what was then known as HBO Max.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, meanwhile, continues to make incredible amounts of money overseas. The blockbuster has done well domestically, making $181.2 million in the United States and Canada, but it's been truly killing it overseas. According to The Numbers, the movie has made $125 million in China alone, and its worldwide ticket sales have now exceeded $500 million.

With all of the above in consideration, next weekend should yield some interesting box office results. In addition to all the buzzy titles that are presently playing on the big screen, audiences will also get the chance to catch all of the outrageous big screen action of The Fall Guy and experience the (hopefully) big scares featured in the new horror movie Tarot starring Zendaya's Spider-Man colleague Jacob Batalon. Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to see how the competition plays out and to see which title ends up at the top of the charts. And for a preview of all the features set to arrive in theaters between now and the end of the year, be sure to check out our 2024 Movie Release Calendar.