‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ To Rule MLK Weekend; ‘Plane’ & ‘House Party’ Open While Hanks’ ‘A Man Called Otto’ Expands
Moviegoers have plenty of options over this long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with two new releases: Plane and House Party, and the wide expansion of A Man Called Otto. With that said, we are slated for a repeat of last weekend with Avatar: The Way of Water and M3GAN remaining on top. Avatar: TWOW may very well rule through January and match the seven weekends at number one of the first Avatar, which holds the record for being the only film of the past 25 years to score a septuple (the last film to do so before that was James Cameron’s own Titanic with 15 weekends at number one).

Through Tuesday, Avatar 2’s domestic cume is $526 million, ahead of the 26 day cumes of Avatar ($441 million) and Top Gun: Maverick ($481 million). The worldwide cume is $1.749 billion, the seventh biggest of all time. In 2010, Avatar did $42.8 million for the three-day and $54.4 million for the four-day over MLK weekend (which, as with Avatar 2, was the film’s fifth weekend), which remains the best cume for a non-opener ever for the holiday. The Way of Water could realistically end up as the holiday weekend’s second best gross ever for a non-opener, a claim currently held by The Revenant with $37.5 million for the four-day (that was the film’s second weekend). Titanic is in third with $36 million (in its fifth weekend). If The Way of Water has another drop of 32% as it did last weekend when it grossed $45.8 million, that’s a three-day of $31.2 million, in the range of The Revenant’s $31.8 million three-day. That’s enough to give Avatar 2 the second best fifth-weekend ever, and even staying above $29.6 million for the three-day will give James Cameron the top three fifth weekend grosses ever (to date, Avatar is first with $42.8 million and Titanic is second with $30 million, while Top Gun: Maverick holds third).

Sci-fi horror film M3GAN should take second place again and continue a strong box office run after its $30.4 million opening. The 17-day release window means we won’t have a chance to see if this is another The Black Phone or Smile (which respectively grossed $90.1 million and $106 million in 2022), but through Monday it should be in the mid-to-high 50s domestically with still more to eke out theatrically. Off a $12 million budget, that’s still a great theatrical run, even if it gets cut short from its full potential.

It is unlikely that anything else tops $10 million for the three-day (the best bet is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which would need to drop less than 26% from last weekend’s $13.5 million to stay in the 8-digits). Of the newcomers, the Gerard Butler-starrer Plane, which opens on 3,000 screens, has the most potential for the weekend. The Lionsgate thriller sees Butler play a pilot who has to emergency land his plane on a war-torn island. His passengers are taken hostage, requiring him to team up with a murderer (Mike Colter), who was under FBI escort on the plane, to save the day.

The other new release is WB’s House Party, rebooting the iconic comedy series from the 1990s. Once intended for HBO Max and now getting a 17-day theatrical exclusive release in 1,300 theaters, the new film tells the story of two friends/aspiring club promoters who decide to make some money by throwing a party at LeBron James’ house while he’s out of town (James is producer on the film). None of the House Party films were massive blockbusters, but altogether the series has a cume of $65.1 million.

After one weekend in four theaters and another weekend in 637 theaters, Tom Hanks’ A Man Called Otto expands to 3,800 theaters. The cume so far for the Sony film is $5.4 million, and by Monday it should be in the mid-teens. It may not do huge business, especially given its high budget (Deadline says it’s around $50 million), but it’s all set to become the season’s highest grossing drama, going past the awards hopefuls which have by and large stalled in the single-digit and very low double-digit millions.