‘Civil War’ unites moviegoers at box office

A woman in a vest marked Press stands in a room near scattered papers on the floor and a U.S. flag in the background.
Kirsten Dunst in a scene from “Civil War.”
(Murray Close / Associated Press)

Alex Garland’s provocative “Civil War” didn’t only ignite the discourse. The film also inspired audiences to go to the cinemas this weekend where it surpassed expectations and earned $25.7 million in ticket sales in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It’s the biggest R-rated opening of the year to date and a record for A24, the studio behind films such as “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “The Iron Claw.” “Civil War” also unseated “Godzilla x Kong ” from its perch atop the box office. The Warner Bros. movie had held the No. 1 spot for the past two weekends.

Starring Kirsten Dunst and Cailee Spaeny as journalists chronicling a war at home, writer-director Alex Garland’s action film provokes a shudder of recognition.

April 11, 2024

“Civil War,” starring Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny and Wagner Moura as front-line journalists in a near-future covering a devastating conflict in the U.S. as they try to make their way to Washington, D.C. The story, written by Garland, who is also the mind behind “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation,” imagines a U.S. in which California and Texas have united against a president who has disbanded the FBI and given himself a third term.


Though entirely fictional, “Civil War” has been inspiring debates since the first trailer that have extended beyond the musings of film critics and traditional reviews. This weekend, the New York Times ran two opinion pieces related to the movie, one by Stephen Marche and another by Michelle Goldberg. There were also pieces on CNN and Politico.

Going into the weekend, projections pegged the film to debut in the $15-million to $24-million range. The film opened on 3,838 screens in the U.S. and Canada, including Imax. It’s the most expensive movie that the studio has ever made, with a production budget of $50 million, which does not account for millions spent on marketing and promotion.

Before “Civil War,” A24’s biggest debut was the Ari Aster horror “Hereditary,” which opened to $13.6 million in 2018. A24 doesn’t always open films nationwide out of the gates. The studio said “Civil War” overperformed in markets “from LA to El Paso.”