“Creed III” punched above its weight at the domestic box office in its first weekend in theaters. The MGM release knocked “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” out of first place and far surpassed both industry expectations and the opening weekends of the first two movies in the franchise.
Playing in 4,007 locations in North America, “Creed III” earned an estimated $58 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday. Going into the weekend, analysts expected the film to open in the $30 million range. The first “Creed” debuted to $29 million in 2015 and “Creed II” opened to $35 million in 2018.
Michael B. Jordan made his directorial debut with “Creed III,” which pits his character Adonis against a childhood friend, Dame, played by Jonathan Majors. It’s the first in the Rocky/Creed films to not feature Sylvester Stallone, who chose not to return because of creative differences.
Strong reviews helped “Creed III,” which is currently sitting at an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences gave it an A- CinemaScore. The audience was largely male (63%), diverse (36% Black, 28% Latino, 23% white and 13% Asian/other) and young (55% between 18 and 34) according to exit polls.
It’s also the most expensive “Creed” film, with a reported production budget of $75 million, compared to the others which cost $35 million and $50 million.
In an interview with The Associated Press before the film’s release, Jordan said that despite Stallone’s absence, the "Rocky" footprint is felt throughout the movie.
“The DNA in which, that started from 'Rocky,' you know, moving through, that’s throughout this franchise completely, you know, I think that the underdog tone and story that people love so much is throughout this entire film,” said Jordan. “One of those reasons, you know, is I think it appeals to the underdog in all of us. I think we all kind of tie into these movies to see characters that go through, you know, these heroic characters that go through, these obstacles and hardships that we all may be facing at one point in our lives.”
Jordan also touched on his new perspective and what he learned after a public breakup with socialite Lori Harvey that became fodder for tabloids and social media.
“Keeping stuff to yourself and keeping it private and learning, you know, when to talk and when not to talk,” said Jordan.
Will he continue to do that in the future?
“We'll see,” said Jordan.
Returning franchise co-star Tessa Thompson is full of praise for her new director's approach to collaboration.
“Mike and I have known each other for so long and we're really close, you know, and so I think we kind of have that and we get to just like skip all of those beginning stages when you're working with someone and trying to figure out like how to communicate and what they need. I think we kind of already knew those things. So we can just give each other a hard time and love each other and support each other through the process," she said.
Jonathan Majors - who also features as the villain in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" - is enjoying the press duties that come with two high profile movie releases.
“You know, the film was like a diary. You know, every time I talk about the film, it's like I'm reading a moment from my past or, you know, the film itself chronicles a time in my life, not just a character’s life, but a time in my life, you know? And so, with all this stuff coming out, having the opportunity to discuss it and the process of it, it's quite reflective, you know. And in some ways, you would think it would tire you out but it's quite emboldening to recap the experience. So, it feels good. The magazine covers are fine, you know, it's cool, it’s all good.”
As to "Creed"'s future, Jordan is keeping the door wide open.
“It goes for as long as the people want it. You know, I think, you know, we're a franchise that listens and we don't like forcing things, you know? So I think this was a natural evolution, you know, for Adonis and the Creed family and an origin story of sorts, you know, for Damian and Adonis, you know. So, it was like an origin story and a trilogy all in one. But the Creed IP and the ‘Creed-verse,’ as I like to call it, as I'm building it, has a lot of legs."