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Dungeons And Dragons' Opening Weekend Rolls Okay At The Box Office - But Its Campaign Has Only Begun

Paramount Pictures' "Dungeons and Dragons" gamble may have paid off at the box office.

Heads were scratched when the studio announced they'd be bringing the iconic tabletop RPG to the big screen. While fantasy continues to be a popular genre on both the big and small screen, "Dungeons and Dragons" isn't an IP that has particularly captured the attention of casual audiences like "Game of Thrones" and "Lord of the Rings" has. Of course, all it takes is one successful project to change the conversation. In a bid to kickstart their own mega-franchise, Paramount pushed forward, roping in "Game Night" directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein to helm the picture.

With an all-star cast consisting of Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, and Regé-Jean Page, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" had certifiable cred prior to release. As previews and press screenings kicked off, it became clear: Paramount had a winner on its hands. Early reactions were extremely positive, with critics praising the film's action, humor, and effects. In a positive review for Looper, critic Domic Griffin labeled the fantasy-comedy as an "earnest and effective crowd pleaser." Even audiences have begun to fall in love with the flick, giving it an unexpected but welcome A- CinemaScore.

Thanks to positive word of mouth and a mostly dry weekend for families at the multiplex, the fantasy epic managed to rack up $38.5 million domestically, per Deadline. With a budget of $150 million, "Dungeons and Dragons" has a long way to go before it becomes a franchise-bearing property for Paramount.

Dungeons and Dragons needs solid legs to dominate the box office

The film was originally expected to open at $30 million, with tracking in the last few weeks suggesting a potential $40 million debut. A $38.5 million debut is respectable, especially when many pundits wrote the film off as another fantasy misfire. "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" came in at number one at the domestic box office, usurping last weekend's champ "John Wick: Chapter 4," which brought home $28 million this weekend. With "Dungeons and Dragons" serving as a family-friendly, PG-13 effort, the film didn't face much competition at the box office from the faith-based "His Only Son," the R-rated slasher "Scream VI" and "Creed III," the other films which rounded out the top five.

Internationally, "Dungeons and Dragons" brought home $33 million, rounding out its global opening weekend total to a cool $71.5 million. China, unfortunately, did not care for Paramount's fantasy flick, where it only grossed $5 million, effectively making it dead on arrival.

While these are great numbers for an opening weekend for a film that most wrote off, "Dungeons and Dragons'" campaign has only just started. The picture will have to boast mighty legs in the coming weeks if it wants to be seen as a success. The fantasy-adventure flick "Uncharted" opened to $44 million back in February 2022, and went on to claim $148 million at the domestic box office, per The Numbers. Should "Dungeons and Dragons" have the same hold as "Uncharted" or 2017's "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($36 million opening weekend), it's possible that the film could be in the clear.

Can Dungeons and Dragons survive Mario?

Of course, the film faces stiff competition in the next week, making it unclear if "Dungeons and Dragons" will have the legs necessary to kickstart Paramount's franchise plans. Deadline confirms that producing partner Hasbro and Paramount+ have already started work on a "D&D" television series, which is expected to tie into "Honor Among Thieves."

Next week sees the release of Illumination and Nintendo's "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which is expected to make a considerable splash at the box office with a debut north of $100 million. The film will take over certain premium and large format screens from both "Dungeons and Dragons" and "John Wick: Chapter 4." While "Dungeons and Dragons" isn't entirely kid-friendly, it's an option at the multiplex that captivates teenagers and families. With "Mario," it's all but certain that those audience members will flock to the animated flick.

While "Mario" does pose a significant threat to "Dungeons and Dragons," the rest of April is clear. If positive word of mouth and traction continues, it's possible that "Dungeons and Dragons" could leg it out over the next few weeks, or even months, like the recently released "Puss and Boots: The Last Wish."