The Woman King, a Black women-led action movie starring Academy Award winner Viola Davis, exceeded expectations and debuted at No. 1 with $19 million across 3,765 North American theaters during its opening week, according to Comscore.
The historical movie is based on the true story of the Agojie, an all-female army who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. The Woman King stars Davis as a general who trains the next generation of warrior women. She stars alongside actors Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, and John Boyega. The Woman King is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and was written by screenwriter Dana Stevens based on a story she wrote with Maria Bello.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9 and was released in theatres in the United States on Friday (Sept. 16). According to reports, viewers who saw the movie gave it an A+ grade in CinemaScore exit polls, and it received a 95 percent on Comscore and Screen Engine’s PostTrak.
“Every part of it was divine and magical,” Davis told Entertainment Weekly of filming the drama. “You have to understand that when you’re fighting for a film to get made, there are moments on the journey that you really go to a dark place within yourself and say, ‘It’s not going to happen. It’s just not going to happen. I dreamed the biggest dream and it’s not going to happen.'”
Davis wants The Woman King to inspire audiences to “tap into the warrior spirit within themselves,” but also serve as an example of what Black women can do. “And then it does. And you’re on that set and you’re in the Motherland and you’re looking at all these extraordinary actors and you are just loving them, enjoying them,” she continued.
According to data from EntTelligence, more than 1.4 million people saw the film during its first three days in the theatres. 33 percent of the audience paid for premium format tickets, which are sold at a higher price than regular tickets. According to data from Sony, 58 percent of ticket holders were women and 71 percent were over the age of 25. Also, 56 percent of all opening weekend ticket sales in the United States and Canada were bought by Black people.