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‘Color Purple’ Lands Second-Biggest Christmas Day Debut

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The Color Purple,” a vibrant adaptation of the book-turned-beloved-movie-turned-hit-Broadway-musical, dominated at the box office on Christmas Day.

The film has outperformed expectations with $18 million from 3,152 North American theaters. It’s the largest Christmas Day opening for a film since 2009, and the second-biggest Christmas Day opening of all time.

Those ticket sales were enough to lead the way on Monday ahead of two other newcomers, Neon’s racing drama “Ferrari” and director George Clooney’s inspirational sports story “The Boys in the Boat.” Warner Bros. impressively held the top three spots on domestic charts as “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and “Wonka” swam to second and third place, respectively.

Boosted by positive reviews and a glowing “A” CinemaScore, “The Color Purple” marks the first musical in some time that’s resonated at the box office. The film, backed by Warner Bros. and directed by Blitz Bazawule, collected more in a single day than recent stage-to-screen stories — including “West Side Story” ($10.5 million), “In the Heights” ($11 million), “Dear Evan Hansen” ($7.5 million) and “Cats” ($6.6 million) — earned in their opening weekends. Of course, “The Color Purple” benefitted by premiering on Christmas Day, one of the most popular days of the year for moviegoing. But this is a promising start for the $100 million-budgeted musical, which should benefit from word of mouth in the coming days.

“The Color Purple” looks to remain the de facto choice for families over the remainder of what has otherwise been a lackluster holiday season. “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino brings to life the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Celie, a Black woman living in Georgia in the early 1900s. Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo and Halle Bailey round out the cast.

“The Boys in the Boat,” which tells the true story of the University of Washington rowing team that represented the U.S. in the 1936 Olympic games, brought in a decent $5.7 million from 2,557 theaters on its first day of release. Even though critics were mixed on the film (it has a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences seem to be more enthusiastic, awarding it an “A” CinemaScore. Initial crowds were mostly older females, with 38% of ticket buyers above 55 and 54% women.

Michael Mann’s sports biopic “Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver as automotive mogul Enzo Ferrari, stalled with $2.8 million from 2,325 venues on Monday. At this pace, it’s unlikely the film will justify its $95 million price tag.

Elsewhere “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” brought in $10.5 million from 3,706 venues on Monday. The comic book sequel, starring Jason Momoa as the King of Atlantis, opened with a lower-than-expected $38 million through the four-day holiday frame. With its $205 million price tag, “Aquaman 2” is shaping up to be the latest underperforming tentpole for Warner Bros. and DC following this year’s string of misfires — “The Flash,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “Blue Beetle.”

“Wonka,” a fantasy musical led by Timothée Chalamet as the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, had more to be merry about on Christmas Day with $10.3 million from 4,213 venues. After two weeks of release, the prequel story has generated $86 million domestically and a notable $254.9 million worldwide to date.

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