Japan's 'Demon Slayer' Topped The Opening Weekend Of 'Raya And The Last Dragon' At The US Box Office

It's no secret that the box office hasn't been all that thrilling over the past year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But now that theaters are starting to open up more and vaccinated audiences are returning to the big screen, business is starting to pick back up. That's paved the way for a recent animated import from Japan to top the opening weekend of one of Disney's big animated movies and earn one of the biggest anime openings of all time.

The anime feature Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train was already a smash hit in Japan and became the highest grossing animated feature across the globe last year. Now it's making waves on the United States box office charts by more-than-doubling the opening weekend of Raya and the Last Dragon.

This past weekend, Funimation/Aniplex released Demon Slayer in the United States and Canada, where it earned an estimated $19.5 million (via Cartoon Brew). That's much bigger than Disney's $8.6 million opening weekend for Raya and the Last Dragon earlier this year. However, it should be noted that more theaters are open now and many restrictions have been lifted around the country to allow for larger capacity in open theaters. Regardless, the box office success of Demon Slayer can't be denied.

Demon Slayer now has the second biggest domestic opening for an anime movie. The number one spot belongs to Pokémon: The First Movie, which arrived back in 1999 at the height of the Nintendo property's popularity. However, what makes Demon Slayer's box office even more impressive is that it's an R-rated feature, and doesn't have broad appeal to young kids and families like the Pokémon franchise.

Does this mean Demon Slayer ended up being more appealing than Raya and the Last Dragon, or does it merely benefit from being only available in theaters in the United States? Disney's movie was also made available as a Premier Access release on Disney+, which allowed many families to watch from the comfort of their home. At the same time, Demon Slayer may have hit the niche sweet spot of adult anime fans in the United States who are hungry for new releases on the big screen.

Raya and the Last Dragon is still alive and kicking at the box office, taking fifth place this past weekend with another $1.6 million added to its total. It has now earned $39.8 million in theaters, but that total doesn't exactly inspire confidence when compared to a similar family release. Tom and Jerry has grossed $43.4 million, and it was also released at home on HBO Max at the same time it was released in theaters. So maybe the audience interest for Raya and the Last Dragon just wasn't there.

As for Demon Slayer, it now sits at over $456 million worldwide, and it will likely add more at the US box office in the coming weeks. There's a chance it could end up being a front-loaded release where anime fans turned out in droves in opening weekend and the weekends that follow may drop significantly. We'll have a better idea of whether Demon Slayer has box office legs after next weekend.