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March 06, 2023

'Creed III' sets box office record for a sports movie

The latest installment in the 'Rocky' spinoff pulled in $100.4 million globally, including $58.6 million in the U.S., on opening weekend

While promoting "Creed III," Michael B. Jordan hinted that the "Rocky" spinoff was ready to step into a new era. Based on the film's early success, the fresh direction is paying off.

"Creed III," which hit theaters Friday, earned $100.4 million globally over the weekend, according to Deadline. The film had the most successful opening weekend of any in the "Creed" series, both domestically and internationally. And the $58.6 million it earned in the United States was the best sports movie debut in history. 

The previous record, of $55.6 million, was held by "The Karate Kid," released in 2010.

"Creed III" is the No. 1 movie in the world, having dethroned Marvel's "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." The film's performance marked the largest box office blockbuster ever for Amazon, which acquired MGM in 2021.

Jordan's directorial debut, and the first film in the series without Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa, is tracking 109% ahead of the original "Creed" and 25% over "Creed II."

The third installment begins with Adonis Creed (Jordan) thriving in his family life, with wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and daughter Amara, and enjoying a successful professional life. 

That all changes when Creed runs into a former childhood friend, Damian "Dame" Anderson (Jonathan Majors), who is fresh out of prison and looking to gain his own boxing glory. Their conflict eventually comes to blows during a matchup in the ring.

Jordan and Majors both underwent intense physical training to prepare their physiques for anime-influenced fight scenes, and Jordan and Thompson attended couples' therapy in character to forge their emotional connection.

Majors, a newcomer to the franchise, is enjoying a successful run on the silver screen. He also stars as Marvel supervillain Kang the Conquerer in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," which sits just behind "Creed III" on the box office charts.

Reviews of "Creed III" have skewed positive, with an 87% critical rating so far on Rotten Tomatoes and a critical consensus that, "Stepping out from Rocky Balboa's iconic shadow at last, the 'Creed' franchise reasserts its champion status thanks to star Michael B. Jordan's punchy direction and a nuanced heel turn by Jonathan Majors."

Many critics have praised the portrayal of the relationship between the friends-turned-foes Jordan and Majors. 

"Jordan, working from a script by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin ... shows dramatic finesse in his staging of the Adonis/Dame relationship, showcasing it as a broken brotherhood that speaks to larger disruptions — the tug between loyalty and violence in dispossessed childhoods," Owen Gleiberman wrote in a "Creed III" review for Variety

The chemistry between Jordan and Majors seems to extend offscreen, too. The actors have embarked on several entertaining joint interviews during the "Creed III" press tour, including one that went viral on social media because the duo seemingly checked out the female interviewer.

On the heels of a successful first collaboration, Jordan and Majors have hinted that audiences can expect more from them in the future. In a Q&A with the New York Times, they revealed plans to forge an ongoing partnership like actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, who have worked together through the decades on hit films like "The Godfather" and "Scarface."

"We're excited about that, and I have those conversations with him," Jordan said. "Acting is such a solo journey, where you're fighting for your place on that call sheet for such a long time. So when you've got somebody that doesn't care as much about that stuff, it's like, 'Let's go. How much damage can we do together?'"

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