Zendaya-Palooza At Weekend Box Office As Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Challengers’ Looks To Serve $15M Opening & ‘Dune 2’ Returns To Imax – Preview

Who loves Zendaya? Show of hands?

Well if you do — and Amazon MGM Studios is betting that plenty of 18- to 24-year-olds do — you can watch the Euphoria Emmy winner in Imax in Amazon MGM Studios Challengers this weekend, then sit around and watch her again in Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two.

More from Deadline

The R-rated tennis romantic comedy Challengers finally steps on the court this weekend after being pushed from its September 15 release date due to the actors strike, with an eye at a $15M domestic opening at 3,400 locations, give or take.

The pic will serve as a testament to Zendaya’s box office drawing power sans any attachments to major IP, read Dune or Spider-Man. Already working in the favor of the Luca Guadagnino-directed, Amy Pascal-produced movie are excellent reviews at 95% certified fresh. If this film truly can break out, it’s a win all around: Win for midsize-budgeted movies ($50M+) at the box office, win for Zendaya, win for Guadagnino with a broad-appealing Hollywood fare (any way you can cut, Challengers is destined to be the best opening for the Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose Bones and All was his widest release with a $2.3M domestic start in 2022) and a win for tennis movies. That sports-cinema genre always has been left of center at the B.O.; the 2004 Kirsten Dunst-Paul Bettany romance pic Wimbledon arguably is the last best opening for the sub-genre and highest-grossing overall ($7.1M domestic opening, $17M domestic, $41.6M).

Already in presales, Challengers is pacing ahead of the 73% female-skewing Don’t Worry Darling ($19.3M opening) — whose star Harry Styles, like Zendaya, is social media magnet — and Cocaine Bear ($23.2M).

RELATED: ‘Challengers’ Star Zendaya Says “It’s Very Odd” Her Kissing Scenes Get A Lot Of Attention: “I Have Noticed That, With Me Specifically”

Challengers, which was bought by MGM in a two-project combo with Guadagnino’s Bones and All during the previous Michael De Luca-Pam Abdy administration, originally was set to fire off the Venice Film Festival, but the studio moved it because Zendaya couldn’t promote it during the strike, meaning no box office. The actress can promote to her social media following of 200M-plus as she’s one of the 25 most-followed stars on Instagram worldwide. RelishMix weighs the social media universe for Challengers north of 225M — “29% over sports dramas across TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, X, Facebook and Instagram combined.”

RELATED: Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ Trailer Shows Racy Side Of Tennis Pro’s World

More evidence that Amazon MGM Studios had to protect this asset at the box office stemmed from the first Challengers trailer racking up 150 million-plus global views and 320K stateside conversations when it dropped late last summer. At the time, Challengers was the most-viewed trailer for an original film in its first 24 hours (meaning it’s not a sequel, reboot or based on pre-existing IP). The pic will share Imax screens with Dune: Part Two and A24’s Civil War, and the Guadagnino movie also has PLFs, including all the Dolby Cinemas. The tennis action scenes alone are worth watching in the most premium experience. Also, there’s a lot of kissing scenes.

RELATED: ‘Challengers’ Clip: Zendaya Curves Advances From Josh O’Connor & Mike Faist In Latest Look At Luca Guadagnino’s Tennis Drama

Fan access screenings were held last night with Thursday previews beginning at 4PM.

Meanwhile, Dune: Part Two will be booked in 200 Imax auditoriums for a total of 1,300 theaters in its eighth week. The Denis Villeneuve adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel is already on PVOD. The sequel is closing in on $700M worldwide.

'Unsung Hero' release date
‘Unsung Hero’

Also going wide this weekend is another Lionsgate release, this one from Kingdom Story, entitled Unsung Hero. The pic was made for roughly $6M before P&A and is looking to do about the same in its opening at 2,800 sites. The movie is based on the true story of David Smallbone as he moves his seven-kid family from Australia to the U.S. Together with his wife Helen and faith in their hearts, they turned into a five-time Grammy-winning act For King+Country and Rebecca St. James. Joel Smallbone and Richard L. Ramsey directed off a screenplay they wrote. Early-access screenings are Wednesday with Thursday previews beginning at 6 p.m.

Bill Skarsgård in 'Boy Kills World'
Bill Skarsgård in ‘Boy Kills World’

Lionsgate’s sister label Roadside Attractions has the Bill Skarsgard TIFF Midnight Madness movie it acquired, Boy Kills World, from German director Moritz Mohr. We first told you about the pickup.

Also starring Michelle Dockery, Jessica Rothe, and Famke Janssen and produced by Sam Raimi and Roy Lee, Boy Kills World follows Skarsgård as Boy, a deaf-mute with a vivid imagination who driven by his inner voice that he co-opted from his favorite childhood video game. He vows revenge after his family is murdered by Hilda Van Der Koy (Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt postapocalyptic dynasty that left the boy orphaned, deafened and voiceless. Boy trains with a mysterious shaman (Ruhian) to become an instrument of death and is set loose on the eve of the annual culling of dissidents. Bedlam ensues as Boy commits bloody martial arts mayhem, inciting a wrath of carnage and blood-letting. As he tries to get his bearings in this delirious realm, Boy soon falls in with a desperate resistance group, all the while bickering with the apparent ghost of his rebellious little sister. The pic is 73% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a low-single-digit debut expected in its wide release. Previews start Thursday at 7PM.

You can’t say that Lionsgate isn’t providing product to cinemas: Note that the opening for its Guy Ritchie movie The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, at $8.9M, was at the higher end of a Ritchie original movie (non-franchise rather than Sherlock Holmes, Aladdin and King Arthur). The movie did not have Canada as it was sold to Prime Video in the Great White North. If it did, chances are it would have gotten into the vicinity of his pre-Covid release, The Gentlemen, which opened to $10.6M.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.