Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ Secures No. 2 Spot in Global Box Office, Rakes in $78.8 Million on Debut

Advertisement

The global release of Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama film, “Napoleon,” has marked an impressive debut at the box office, securing the second spot with an astounding $78.8 million in ticket sales. Despite a lukewarm reception in North America, this achievement signifies a promising start for the film, positioning it to potentially become a cinematic sensation, leaving audiences worldwide hungry for more historical epics.

Centered on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, the film primarily chronicles the French leader’s ascent to power and his intertwined relationship with Empress Joséphine, played by Vanessa Kirby. Its debut garnered $78.8 million, including $46.3 million internationally, while domestically, it earned $33.1 million within its initial five days of release, securing the second position after “The Hunger Games” prequel, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

Despite mixed reviews from critics, notably criticized for historical inaccuracies, the film managed to maintain its position at the box office. In the United States and Canada, it was released alongside “Wish” and the wider expansion of “Saltburn,” originally projected to gross approximately $22 million from 3,500 theaters over the Thanksgiving opening weekend. However, the film exceeded expectations by earning $20.4 million on its opening weekend and a total of $32.5 million over the five days.

Advertisement

Nevertheless, breaking even under a traditional theatrical release model seems challenging. With a budget of $200 million, “Napoleon” would need to gross between $500–600 million globally. However, success isn’t solely measured by box office earnings. Factors such as attracting subscribers to Apple TV+ and revenue from on-demand rentals and other streams play a pivotal role.

The performance of “Napoleon” resonates with similar Apple Original Films endeavors, notably “Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by Martin Scorsese. Despite positive reviews, it fell short of expectations by grossing over $151 million worldwide against its $200 million budget. These films are anticipated to transition to Apple TV+ after their theatrical runs, marking a critical phase in their financial success.

Moreover, these films are eyeing potential award recognition. The release of Matthew Vaughn’s “Argylle” in 2024 will further test this model’s viability, determining its box office performance and reception in both national and international markets.

As for “Napoleon,” it is a spectacle-filled action epic portraying Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise and fall, helmed by director Ridley Scott. The movie captures Bonaparte’s journey to power against the backdrop of his intense relationship with Empress Joséphine, featuring stunning battle sequences and visionary storytelling.

The film premiered in Paris on November 14, 2023, followed by releases in the United States and the United Kingdom on November 22, 2023. Ridley Scott plans a director’s cut that delves deeper into Empress Joséphine’s story, envisioning a four-hour-and-ten-minute extended version for theatrical and Apple TV+ release post-initial screenings.

Initial audience reception, as per CinemaScore, averaged a “B−,” and PostTrak reported a 72% positive score, with 46% expressing a definite recommendation. Critical reception on Rotten Tomatoes is at 60% positive reviews from 212 critics, with an average rating of 6.2/10. Metacritic’s weighted average awarded the film a score of 64 out of 100, signaling “generally favorable” reviews from 56 critics.