Box office preview: Crunchyroll anime ‘One Piece Film: Red’ will try to dethrone ‘Black Adam’

November officially brings us into the holiday movie season, although it’s starting a bit slower than usual, being that there’s only one new wide release this weekend. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.

Instead of a studio movie with a big name star, Crunchyroll comes along with its latest anime film from Japan, “One Piece Film: Red,” a movie that has already grossed $144 million worldwide before getting its North American theatrical release, both in subtitled and dubbed into English versions.

Anime films have already been one of my weak spots in terms of the box office, only because I’m just not someone who watches all the modern manga series that are out there on the streamers (including Crunchyroll). Otherwise, I might have been familiar with “Red,” which is the 15th feature film in the series based on the “One Piece” comics by Eiichiro Oda, which were turned first into the animated “One Piece” series by Toei Animation, starting in 1999. That series has run for 20 seasons in Japan with over 900 episodes, so obviously there must be a fanbase to justify the theatrical release for “Red.”

In August, Crunchyroll released “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” in 3,018 theaters. It defied expectations by opening with $21.1 million on its way to grossing $38.1 million domestically. Almost exactly a year ago, FUNimation (which has since merged with Crunchyroll) released “My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission” into about 1,500 theaters where it opened with $8.2 million or $5,174 per theater. Both movies show the existence of North American audiences for theatrical anime releases, although that’s a pretty wide span to consider for “One Piece Film: Red,” especially not knowing into how many theaters it will open Friday.

I’m guestimating that “Red” opens in somewhere closer to 2,500 theaters, which should keep its opening below $15 million this weekend. Because of that, there’s a very good chance Dwayne Johnson’s “Black Adam” will remain #1 for a third weekend in a row, unless “One Piece Film” gets a wider release than projected.

Two of this season’s prestige films that have played at a number of festivals this year will get nationwide releases on Friday with Focus Features expanding James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” into an estimated 800 theaters on Friday. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong (“Succession”), Sir Anthony Hopkins, Banks Repeta and Jaylin Webb, this deeply personal coming-of-age film revolves around Repeta’s Queens Jewish kid, Paul Graff, who becomes friends with Webb’s Johnny, but finds that being friends with an African-American kid is frowned upon by his schoolmates when his parents send him to a private school.

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Gray’s latest premiered at Cannes back in May, and it has received generally decent reviews since then with a 78% score on Rotten Tomatoes. This past weekend, “Armageddon Time” opened in six theaters in select cities where it made $72,000 or $12,000. In most cases, that would sound just fine, but maybe not for such a quick wide expansion when you compare it to Todd Field’s “TÁR” or “Till” (also starring Webb), both of which expanded nationwide last weekend to mixed results. Granted, both those movies also had slower expansions, so the bigger markets had already been playing them for weeks.

Fortunately, “Armageddon Time” may be an easier to sell to older audiences than those other recent films, since it comes across like something in the vein of “Finding Forrester” or “Good Will Hunting.” By expanding the movie into 800 theaters, that leaves room for Focus to expand the movie wider if it gets any awards love once December hits.

Filmmaker Martin McDonagh’s equally well-regarded “The Banshees of Inisherin,” starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleason and Kerry Conron, will be expanded nationwide this week by Searchlight Studios, looking to build on the word-of-mouth from two weeks in select cities. As of this past weekend, “Banshees” has grossed $790,760 in just 58 theaters, and it has built more buzz from its more recent festival run at Venice, Toronto, and oddly, Fantastic Fest.

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“Banshees” is a very different movie from “Armageddon Time,” being that it’s a period film set on a remote Irish island (with lots of heavy accents!), but it’s also a very dark comedy, two things that might make it a harder sell to Americans outside major cities. That said, “Banshees” does have better reviews and more prospects when it comes to Oscars, going by Gold Derby’s experts, who have all three main actors in second place to win their respective categories.

We’ll have to see how many theaters Searchlight gets it into this weekend, knowing that the rest of the month is jam-packed with next week’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and all the movies being released nationwide over Thanksgiving. (Make sure to check out my November box office preview to see all that’s coming out in the next few weeks.)

Still, both of the movies expanding this weekend are likely to end up somewhere in the $2 million range this weekend, which might fall just outside the top five.

Check back on Sunday to see how all the movies above did.

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