“The Woman King,” an epic about an all-female army of African warriors, easily topped the North American box office this weekend with an estimated take of $19 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday. The new Sony release, loosely based on a true historical episode, stars Oscar-winner Viola Davis as the fierce general who leads an army known as the Agojie as it protects the 18th-century kingdom of Dahomey. Days earlier, Davis told AFP that she felt “conflicted” because if the Black-led, woman-dominated film fell short, it would unfairly damage the prospects for future such endeavours. Instead, boosted by a favourable critical reception — “Reviews are sensational,” said the FranchiseRe website — it exceeded analysts’ expectations, more than tripling the ticket sales of the next-highest finisher, 20th Century’s “Barbarian.” That horror film tells the story of a woman who checks into an AirBnB rental in a sketchy Detroit neighbourhood only to find it has also been booked by an oh-so-creepy Bill Skarsgard. “Barbarian” took in $6.3 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.