Box Office Mojo - News Box Office News and Analysis Thu, 12 Jan 2023 15:45:28 +0000Thu, 12 Jan 2023 15:45:28 +000060Copyright 2024, Inc. ‘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: <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Plane</a> and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">House Party</a>, and the wide expansion of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">A Man Called Otto</a>. With that said, we are slated for a repeat of last weekend with <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">M3GAN</a> remaining on top. <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> may very well rule through January and match the seven weekends at number one of the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a>, 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 <b>James Cameron’s</b> own <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Titanic</a> with 15 weekends at number one).<br/><br/> Through Tuesday, <b>Avatar 2’s</b> domestic cume is $526 million, ahead of the 26 day cumes of <b>Avatar</b> ($441 million) and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> ($481 million). The worldwide cume is $1.749 billion, the seventh biggest of all time. In 2010, <b>Avatar</b> did $42.8 million for the three-day and $54.4 million for the four-day over MLK weekend (which, as with <b>Avatar 2</b>, was the film’s fifth weekend), which remains the best cume for a non-opener ever for the holiday. <b>The Way of Water</b> could realistically end up as the holiday weekend’s second best gross ever for a non-opener, a claim currently held by <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Revenant</a> with $37.5 million for the four-day (that was the film’s second weekend). <b>Titanic</b> is in third with $36 million (in its fifth weekend). If <b>The Way of Water</b> 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 <b>The Revenant’s</b> $31.8 million three-day. That’s enough to give <b>Avatar 2</b> the second best fifth-weekend ever, and even staying above $29.6 million for the three-day will give <b>James Cameron</b> the top three fifth weekend grosses ever (to date, <b>Avatar</b> is first with $42.8 million and <b>Titanic</b> is second with $30 million, while <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b> holds third).<br/><br/> Sci-fi horror film <b>M3GAN</b> 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 <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Black Phone</a> or <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Smile</a> (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.<br/><br/> It is unlikely that anything else tops $10 million for the three-day (the best bet is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>, 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 <b>Gerard Butler</b>-starrer <b>Plane</b>, which opens on 3,000 screens, has the most potential for the weekend. The Lionsgate thriller sees <b>Butler</b> 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 (<b>Mike Colter</b>), who was under FBI escort on the plane, to save the day. <br/><br/> The other new release is WB’s <b>House Party</b>, 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 (<b>James</b> 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.<br/><br/> After one weekend in four theaters and another weekend in 637 theaters, <b>Tom Hanks’</b> <b>A Man Called Otto</b> 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. Sam Mendelsohn <> Thu, 12 Jan 2023 15:45:28 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Stays On Top With $45 Million, Races To $517 Million Domestic & $1.7 Billion Worldwide To Become 7th Highest Global Grosser Ever; ‘M3GAN’ Smashes Expectations With $30 Million Start While <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> remains the major box office story one week into the new year and should continue to dominate in the weeks ahead, this weekend the film received a worthy companion to help power the January box office. The sci-fi horror film <a class="a-link-normal" href="">M3GAN</a>, which comes from the lucrative Blumhouse/<b>James Wan</b> partnership, smashed expectations to boast a frighteningly good $30.2 million opening. That wasn’t enough to dethrone <b>James Cameron’s</b> latest epic, which grossed $45 million in its fourth weekend, but the two films were able to carry an overall box office of $104 million. It’s the first weekend since July where two films grossed above $20 million, the sixth weekend since July where the overall box office hit the nine-digits, and the second time since July that two weekends in a row did so. Unfortunately, the top two films made up 72% of the overall box office, and just one other film even grossed above $5 million (compare this to Jan 10-12, 2020 when the entire top ten was above $5 million). As well as some of the individual films are performing, the box office blues will continue until the overall slate picks up.<br/><br/> After the 33% drop in its fourth weekend, <b>The Way of Water’s</b> cume is now $517 million domestic and $1.708 billion worldwide, making it the seventh-biggest global grosser of all time. The domestic total puts it ahead of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a>’s $467 million cume at the same point in its release, though <b>TWOW’s</b> holiday season release gives it a different trajectory. This weekend, however, improves <b>TWOW’s</b> odds of holding its lead. <b>Maverick’s</b> fourth weekend was a hair under <b>TWOW’s</b> at $44.7 million, and assuming the actuals hold, then <b>TWOW</b> topped it to have the second-biggest fourth weekend of all time after the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a> ($50.3 million, though it’s cume was smaller with $431 million after its fourth weekend). <b>Maverick</b> went on to gross another $252 million from there, and if <b>TWOW</b> manages to play on par with <b>Maverick</b> from this point on, that would give it a finish of $769 million and make it the fourth-highest domestic grosser ever (ahead of <b>Avatar’s</b> $750 million original release, though behind its $785 million cume which includes re-releases). A more “pessimistic” possible outcome would be to play like <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens</a>, which had a $42.4 million fourth weekend and went on to gross another $124 million. Adding that to <b>Avatar 2’s</b> current cume would get it to $641 million and make it the tenth-highest film of all time. Not that the range of possible domestic outcomes matters hugely for the film, which will soon cross the $2 billion global threshold and make its way into the top five all-time highest grossers (<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avengers: Infinity War</a> currently occupies fifth place with $2.048 billion).<br/><br/> For the first time, <b>Avatar: The Way of Water</b> isn’t alone in celebrating strong box office returns. <b>M3GAN’s</b> killer $30.2 million debut is ahead of the openings of 2022’s two big horror hits <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Smile</a> ($22.6 million opening, $106 million domestic cume) and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Black Phone</a> ($23.6 million opening, $90.1 million domestic cume). For a non-sequel, it’s the best horror opening since before the pandemic. <b>M3GAN</b> is behind previous <b>James Wan</b> produced franchise starters such as <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Nun</a> ($53.8 million opening, $117 million domestic cume) and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Annabelle</a> ($37.1 million opening, $84.3 million domestic cume), but the 94% on Rotten Tomatoes (a rarity for a mainstream horror film) and B CinemaScore (good for a horror film) bode well for its legs. Worldwide the total is $45 million, and in like-for-likes abroad it is comparable to <b>Smile</b> and <b>Black Phone</b> which respectively grossed $110 million and $71.3 million internationally. Considering the Universal film cost just $12 million, this one is creepy-robot-dancing all the way to the bank. <br/><br/> Universal also took third place with its toon-quel <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>, which is holding very nicely as it drops just 22% in its third weekend, grossing an additional $13.1 million and bringing the total to $87.7 million. That’s better than <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a>’s $11.6 million weekend three last January, though the <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing</a> sequel still leads in its overall cume ($109 million after its third weekend). Internationally <b>The Last Wish</b> is also holding well, with another $25.9 million pushing its global total to $197 million.<br/><br/> The <b>Tom Hanks</b> starring <a class="a-link-normal" href="">A Man Called Otto</a> took fourth place with $4.2 million from 637 theaters, expanding from its four theater opening last weekend. The budget here isn’t low (Deadline reported it’s around $50 million), so the Sony film will need to break out from the specialty box office box when it expands nationwide next week in order to turn a profit. <br/><br/> <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a> rounds out the top five with another $3.4 million, bringing the total to $445 million. The global cume is $827 million. Sam Mendelsohn <> Sun, 08 Jan 2023 20:08:39 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ To Lead In 4th Weekend As It Swims Its Way Up The All Time Box Office Charts; M3GAN Provides Creepy Counterprogramming <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> has had an incredible run from its December 16 release up through the early days of the new year. The remaining question is how it will play now that the holiday season has come to an end. The box office juggernaut has made a massive splash with $457 million domestically through Tuesday, and at $1.482 billion worldwide it is not only on the verge of topping <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> ($1.489 billion) to become 2022’s highest grossing film but is also on its way into the top ten all time global box office list (10th place is currently occupied by <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Furious 7</a> with $1.515 billion). <b>James Cameron’s</b> sequel to what remains the highest grossing film of all time has already silenced any doubts that were in the air about the franchise’s relevance, and now we’ll see how far it can swim. <br/><br/> The first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a> took a 27% tumble in its fourth weekend (January 8-10, 2010), which was the only drop over 20% in its first seven weekends. That remains the highest grossing fourth weekend of all time with $50.3 million. The original and the follow-up saw nearly identical third weekend grosses, though <b>Avatar 2</b> (which grossed $67.4 million) would have topped the first <b>Avatar</b> ($68.5 million) were it not for New Year’s Eve falling over the weekend this year. Even with that in mind, it seems doubtful that <b>Avatar 2</b> could hold that well, especially considering it has minted a larger cume than the first film had at the same point in its release (<b>Avatar</b> had grossed $368 million through its 19th day). Even if <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> ends up with a similar finish as the first film, a leveling out is to be expected.<br/><br/> Franchise films tend to fall big after the holiday season (the films in the recent <b>Star Wars</b> trilogy and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Rogue One</a>, all of which opened in the same mid-December, pre-Christmas weekend as the <b>Avatar</b> films, fell over 50% in their first post-New Year weekends), but last year <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a> held better, falling 42% in its fourth weekend to gross $32.6 million. <b>The Way of Water</b> outgrossed <b>No Way Home</b> in its third weekend ($67.4 million compared to $56 million) and is seeing bigger weekdays this week (<b>Avatar: TWOW</b> did $21.4 million Monday and $10.5 million Tuesday compared to <b>No Way Home’s</b> $7.9 million and $5.9 million one year ago, though it makes a difference that those days were Jan 2-3 this year compared to Jan 3-4 last year), giving <b>TWOW</b> the upper hand this weekend in gross terms. If <b>TWOW</b> has an equivalent hold, that would be $39.2 this weekend. Whether it can catch up to <b>No Way Home’s</b> $805 million is another story, given that at this point in its release the <b>Spidey</b> film had grossed $627 million. Still, if <b>TWOW</b> plays like <b>No Way Home</b> from here on out, that’s another $177 million, enough to put it in the all time domestic top ten list. It could certainly go much further, but we’ll get a better sense of its chances by the end of the weekend. <br/><br/> Though it’s <b>Avatar’s</b> show once again this weekend, there are some new releases. Most notable among them is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">M3GAN</a>, a sci-fi horror film produced by <b>Jason Blum</b> and <b>James Wan</b>. The film, which opens in 3,400 locations, is about a roboticist (<b>Allison Williams</b>) who develops an AI powered doll and decides to put it to real world use after she gains custody of her orphaned niece. As you can expect, things don’t go quite as planned in this twist on the creepy doll subgenre. The market is ripe for a new horror film, and this should be the best non-franchise opening at least since <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Ticket to Paradise</a> ($16.5 million) in October, and likely the best since <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Smile</a> ($22.6 million) in September. Time will tell if it has legs, but some solid counter-programming is very welcome given the weak slate outside of <b>Avatar</b> (the only other film to possibly gross over $10 million this weekend is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>). Given the $12 million budget, the economics here are strong, and the 98% on Rotten Tomatoes as of now is a nice plus.<br/><br/> Also going wide is United Artists Releasing’s <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Women Talking</a> which opened in eight locations on December 23rd and has grossed $175k to date. The <b>Sarah Polley</b>-written and directed Oscar contender is about a group of Mennonite women who grapple with the discovery of widespread sexual assault in their community. That cast includes <b>Rooney Mara</b>, <b>Claire Foy</b>, <b>Jessie Buckley</b>, <b>Judith Ivey</b>, <b>Ben Whishaw</b>, and <b>Frances McDormand</b>. Sam Mendelsohn <> Thu, 05 Jan 2023 14:19:28 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Nabs 4th Best 3rd Weekend Ever With $63.4 Million As Overall Box Office Rises In New Year’s Weekend There’s no denying that 2022 was not a great year at the box office. The domestic cume for the entire year came to $7.37 billion, down considerably from 2019’s $11.36 billion, and by pre-pandemic standards it was the worst year since 1999. Yes, it was up 64% from 2021’s $4.48 billion cume, but 2021 was largely a dud year until the Memorial Day weekend “reopening.” Comparing just June through December, this year looks like less of an improvement with $4.67 billion for the final seven months compared to 2021’s $3.84 billion. Much of that improvement came from a strong summer, and the lead evaporates away if you compare September through December, with 2021’s cume coming to $2.435 billion, ahead of 2022’s $2.096 billion.<br/><br/> We can only hope that 2023 brings greater box office fortunes, but for now we can celebrate that 2022 ended on a positive note, at least relatively. The overall box office this weekend came to $98.7 million, ahead of last weekend’s $94.7 million nearly on par with the previous year’s final weekend (December 31-Jan 2) cume of $98.9 million (note that no weekend since mid-November has beat 2021’s corresponding weekend, though that could change with the actuals). It’s still far from pre-pandemic norms (2019’s final weekend brought in $197 million), largely because just a few films are driving the box office right now (the top two titles made up 80% of the weekend cume), but the solid to strong performances of individual titles and a rebound from the lackluster Christmas weekend is something to feel good about as we head into the new year.<br/><br/> Of course, the dominant force at the box office is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> which is up 0.2% from last weekend for a third weekend of $63.4 million. That gives <b>The Way of Water</b> the fourth best third weekend of all time, and the $422 million cume (and with Monday estimates that’s $441 million) means it has already grossed over three times its opening weekend and is ahead of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> at the same point in its release ($395 million). Internationally the film grew 4% over last weekend, bumping the global cume to $1.397 billion million. The last time we saw legs like this on a massive winter blockbuster was, appropriately enough, 13 years ago with the release of the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a>. <br/><br/> Whether or not the spectacular holds continue, the film has already made a killing, and with the Monday estimates it has passed <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a>’s $440 million domestic cume to become the second highest domestic grosser of 2022. More impressively, <b>The Way of Water</b> is also just days off from becoming 2022’s highest grossing film worldwide, surpassing <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b>’s $1.49 billion cume. The China release helps here, being the film’s largest international market with $153 million so far, while <b>Maverick</b> never got a release in the Middle Kingdom. Even without China, though, <b>Avatar 2</b> would still be on track to be the year’s topper. It has already broken pandemic-era records in many markets (notably France, its second biggest international market with $95.1 million so far) after less than three weeks of its release, with considerable room for further growth as it shows no sign of slowing down. <br/><br/> The runner-up this weekend is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a> which grew 31% from last weekend, bringing in another $16.3 million. The toon may have opened soft, but it is looking much better this weekend with a cume of $60.7 million (and an estimated $66.1 million through Monday). The holds are strong abroad as well, and the new global cume is $135 million. Overseas it is tracking closely to <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a> despite under performing it at home (after two weekends Sing 2 grossed $90.2 million domestically). Considering <b>Sing 2</b> grossed $245 million internationally, the $90 million budgeted <b>The Last Wish</b> is in a good place even if it can’t approach the $555 million global cume of the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots</a>. <br/><br/> Surprisingly, third place went to <b>Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</b>, which finished in sixth last week. The <b>MCU</b> film may be in its eighth weekend, but it still has stamina, rising 38% from last weekend to gross $4.8 million. The cume through Monday is $440 million domestic and $820 million worldwide. <br/><br/> <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody</a> finished in fourth with $4.3 million, down 11% from the last frame. It’s chugging along steadily even though the numbers are still low, with the cume coming to $16 million through Monday. Internationally the biopic was up 29% in holdover markets, and the worldwide total is now $29.1 million. This definitely isn’t the next hit biopic, but if the holds continue to impress then it may eke out an okay cume following its disappointing opening. Still, it will need a lot of growth to cover its $45 million budget.<br/><br/> In fifth place is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Babylon</a> with $2.7 million, a drop of 24%. Through Monday, the $80 million budgeted period drama has tallied just $11 million. If there’s hope for the film, it’s from overseas where it begins its rollout later in the month, but it’s hard to imagine the pricey film recovering from such a weak domestic showing. Sam Mendelsohn <> Sun, 01 Jan 2023 20:03:15 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Crosses $1 Billion Worldwide In The Week And Is Headed Past $400 million Domestic Over New Year’s Weekend As we head into the new year, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> continues its dominance with no sign of slowing down yet. It crossed $1 billion worldwide this week, making it one of just six films ever to hit the ten digits in the first two weeks of its release, and at $1.03 billion it is already the year’s second highest grossing film and the third highest grossing of the 2020s. On the domestic front, the 12 day cume is $317 million, and though the extreme weather and low-grossing Christmas Eve holiday took a chunk out of the second weekend gross, the final numbers actually grew considerably from the estimates reported Sunday. It’s still too early to say whether the box office on <b>The Way of Water</b> will, like <b>James Cameron’s</b> last two films <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a> and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Titanic</a>, be another one for the record books, but the strong performance through the holidays so far indicates that we can’t yet rule it out. <br/><br/> <b>TWOW</b> grossed $32.3 million Monday and $24.1 million Tuesday, ahead of the respective Monday ($24.7 million) and Tuesday ($21.3 million) last December for <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a> ($21.3 million), which is the third highest grossing film of all time domestically with $805 million in its original run. The MCU film had a second weekend (with Christmas on Saturday) of $84.5 million, ahead of <b>Avatar 2’s</b> second weekend of $63.3 million, and a third weekend (with New Year’s Day on Saturday) of $56 million. It’s no sure shot, but it wouldn’t be a shock for <b>The Way of Water</b> to match or beat that this weekend, especially given that the first <b>Avatar</b> was down just 9.4% in its third weekend with a gross of $68.5 million (note that <b>Avatar</b> had the advantage of not having the relatively low-grossing New Year’s Eve holiday fall over the weekend). <br/><br/> Looking at the box office of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Rogue One: A Star Wars Story</a> (which released the same date as <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> in 2016 when the calendar lined up exactly with this December, making it a good point of comparison on a day-by-day and weekend-by-weekend basis particularly through the holiday season), it followed its $64 million second weekend, marginally higher than <b>Avatar 2’s</b>, with a $32.1 million Monday and $22.5 Tuesday, both marginally lower than <b>Avatar 2’s</b>. <b>Rogue One</b> had a third weekend of $49.6 million (a 23% drop), which <b>TWOW</b> shouldn’t have trouble meeting and likely exceeding, even as the winter storm continues to rage. <b>TWOW</b> is holding stronger than <b>Rogue One</b>, which opened 16% better than <b>TWOW</b> ($155 million compared to $134 million) but had a 12 day cume just 7.3% ahead ($341 million compared to $317 million), and that’s with <b>TWOW’s</b> gross being held back by the storm. Whether or not <b>Avatar 2</b> can pull ahead of <b>Rogue One</b> this weekend, it will end its third weekend over $400 million, and it will soon become the year’s second highest domestic grosser (currently<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a> with $430 million, though that number rises daily).<br/><br/> Beyond <b>Avatar 2</b>, there is unfortunately little action at the box office, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a> is the only other title to even have a chance of going above $10 million this weekend. The animated sequel has a soft $32.7 million to date, but it looks to hold well and its Monday ($6.8 million) and Tuesday ($6.7 million) grosses actually improved from the Christmas Sunday gross ($5.8 million). Considering the strong word of mouth (A CinemaScore), the drop this weekend should be negligible from last weekend’s $12.4 million cume, as seen last year when <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a> dropped 9.7% in its second weekend. It could even improve in its second weekend, which isn’t unusual for family films released in mid-to-late December (the first Sing grew 22% in its second weekend after it released on the same date as <b>The Last Wish</b> in 2016 when the calendar matched this year, making it a good comp). Though the seven day cume is 40% behind that of <b>Sing 2</b>, the Monday and Tuesday grosses average at just 11% behind those of <b>Sing 2</b>, so it could continue to play catch-up to some extent. <br/><br/> As for something new on the menu this weekend, New Yorkers and Angelinos will be able to see <a class="a-link-normal" href="">A Man Called Otto</a>, the <b>Tom Hanks</b> starring adaptation of the novel <a class="a-link-normal" href="">A Man Called Ove</a> which had a Swedish adaptation of the same name in 2015. The well reviewed (72% on Rotten Tomatoes, though only 32 reviews are in so far) dramedy expands nationwide over the next two weekends. Sam Mendelsohn <> Thu, 29 Dec 2022 20:13:18 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Surges To $881 Million Worldwide Cume, Newcomers Open Soft As Storm Takes Toll on Christmas Weekend Box Office This Christmas weekend box office looked a lot like last year’s, with a megablockbuster (<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a> then, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> now), leading the way, a modest grossing toon in second place (<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a> then, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a> now), and a slew of other contenders that largely failed to find an audience. The weekend was depressed by having the historically low-grossing Christmas Eve fall on Saturday rather than a weekday (last year the holiday weekend was likewise down as the 24th fell on Friday) and by Storm Elliott which has afflicted a large chunk of the country. The numbers could improve with the actuals, but for now the total box office for the weekend is estimated at just $82.8 million, which is down from last year’s $144 million. The weeks ahead still have strong potential, particularly for the season’s big ticket title <b>Avatar 2</b>, but there’s no denying that the overall slate is not connecting with audiences once again this season.<br/><br/> <b>James Cameron’s</b> epic sci-fi sequel brought in $56 million this weekend (a drop of 58%) and including Monday estimates it grossed $82 million for the four-day, bringing the cume to $280 million after 11 days. That’s the fourth best 11 day cume of the year, behind <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a>’s $294 million, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</a>’ $297 million, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a>’s $308 million. <b>TWOW</b> may pull ahead of those two MCU films in the coming week, though catching up to <b>Maverick</b> is more of a long shot. By its 11th day, the first <b>Avatar 2</b> was at just $237 million, but that film just kept playing and playing for months to come as it went on to become the highest grossing film of all time, finishing its initial run with $750 million. <b>Avatar 2</b> may not have the same juice, but we’re still looking at what may be a top three film since the start of the pandemic. <br/><br/> 2016 was the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Rogue One: A Star Wars Story</a>, which also opened a week before the Christmas weekend, was the number one film. <b>Rogue One</b> and <b>The Way of Water</b> saw similar numbers following the opening day (the more frontloaded Star Wars film boasted a considerably larger first Friday), though <b>Rogue One</b> pulled ahead once again in its second weekend grosses, unencumbered by disastrous weather. It had a cume of $318 million by its 11th day and it finished with $532 million, becoming the seventh highest grossing film of all time (now it is 15th). It wouldn’t be a surprise if <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> were to catch up in the weeks ahead, but that’s far from a guarantee and would require much stronger than average holds from the film. Of course, for a <b>James Cameron</b> film, anything less would be a disappointment.<br/><br/> Internationally the film fell 42%, and in many markets the drops were negligible. In both South Korea and France, the second and third biggest international markets respectively, it dropped just 7% bringing the cumes in both countries over $50 million. China remains the biggest market, though unfortunately it dropped a steep 55% owing to the country’s Covid outbreak (take away China and the international drop was just 38%). Still, at $100 million after two weekends, it certainly beats not releasing in China, a fate that has bestowed most Hollywood blockbusters of late. Worldwide the cume is now $881 million, with $1 billion right around the corner, and it will soon be the year’s second highest global grosser after <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b> ($1.489 billion). The holds over the next few weeks should give us a sense of if it can become number one for the year and possibly even approach the $2 billion mark which <b>Cameron</b> claims is the break-even.<br/><br/> The second place film over the Christmas weekend is Universal’s animated <b>Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</b>, which opened Wednesday and grossed $11.4 million for the three-day and $18.6 million for the four-day, bringing the cume to $24.7 million through Monday. The best comp is last year’s <b>Sing 2</b>, which also opened in the shadow of a huge franchise film the Wednesday ahead of the Christmas weekend, but unfortunately the gross of <b>Puss in Boots 2</b> isn’t holding up. <b>Sing 2</b> was at $47 million at the end of its sixth release day, almost double <b>The Last Wish’s</b> cume. <b>The Last Wish</b> also can’t match up to the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots</a>, which opened to $34.1 million back in 2011. The opening on the toon’s sequel is comparable to Disney’s recent <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Strange World</a>, which was a box office disaster as it opened to $18.9 million over the long Thanksgiving five-day weekend and has since tallied just $35.9 million.<br/><br/> The good news for the <b>Puss in Boots</b> franchise is that the budget on the sequel is more modest ($90 million) than the costly <b>Strange World</b>, and the legs should be better given the Shrek-spinoff’s strong word of mouth, having received a great A CinemaScore compared to <b>Strange World’s</b> B. There are no major animated films in the first quarter of 2023, so like <b>Sing 2</b>, which legged out to $163 million, <b>Puss in Boots 2</b> should play long, and with the holidays it could catch up to the solid box office of this year’s earlier animated titles <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Bad Guys</a> and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">DC League of Super-Pets</a> (both films opened at $23-24 million and finished in the mid-$90 millions). Worldwide the total is $57.2 million.<br/><br/>Sony’s <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody</a>, which opened Friday, came in third place with a cume of $5.3 million for the three-day and $7.5 million for the four-day. That’s a poor start for the $45 million budgeted biopic, but the strong audience response (A CinemaScore) could give it some solid holiday legs. Worldwide the total is $10.1 million.<br/><br/>Coming in fourth place is Paramount’s <b>Damien Chazelle</b> directed period epic <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Babylon</a>, which stars <b>Brad Pitt</b> and <b>Margot Robbie</b> and looks at the period of Hollywood’s history when it was transitioning between silent and sound filmmaking. Unfortunately, hopes that this $80 million budgeted film wouldn’t be another <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Amsterdam</a> (another expensive period piece with an $80 million budget and a star studded cast that includes <b>Margot Robbie</b>) turned out to be in vain. <b>Babylon</b>, which came out Friday, opened to just $3.5 million for the three-day and $5.4 million for the four-day. That’s even worse than <b>Amsterdam’s</b> $6.4 million opening, and the audience response is worse as well, with a C+ CinemaScore compared to <b>Amsterdam’s</b> B. Even adjusting for Christmas Eve and the poor weather, and even if this legs out better than <b>Amsterdam</b> (which finished with just $14.9 million domestic and $31.2 million worldwide), this still looks like one of the year’s biggest flops. The film opens internationally next month, though it’s hard to imagine other markets making up for the poor domestic showing.<br/><br/>Rounding out the top five is <b>Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</b> which continues to add to its already large cume. The $3 million three-day and $4.7 million four-day puts it at $427 million through Monday, and the worldwide total is $801 million.<br/><br/>The notable specialty box office release is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Whale</a>, which expanded from six to 603 theaters and grossed $921k over the three-day and $1.3 million over the four-day, bringing the cume to $2.9 million. These aren’t huge numbers for the much buzzed about <b>Darren Aronofsky</b> directed film, which stars <b>Brendan Fraser</b> as a morbidly obese man trying to connect with his estranged teenage daughter, after it scored best of the year theater averages in its opening weekend. However, we’ll see if it can leg out better from here than the season’s other Oscar hopefuls. Sam Mendelsohn <> Sun, 25 Dec 2022 20:45:27 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ To Rule As Newcomers ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, ‘Babylon’, & ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ Open In Time For Christmas Weekend The holiday season is in full swing, with Christmas falling this Sunday and a few new releases in store for the busy end-of-the-year movie-going rush. This weekend will likely be a notch smaller than last year’s $144 million Christmas-weekend haul, and like last year the three-day numbers will be depressed by having the soft movie-going day of Christmas Eve fall over the weekend. Still, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> should lead a relatively strong finish to the year (remember the overall box office was a brutally low $57.6 million just two weekends ago).<br/><br/> While the newcomers <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Babylon</a>, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody</a> all have potential, as does the expansion of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Whale</a>, <b>Avatar: The Way of Water</b> remains the major box office story of this weekend and many weekends to come. <b>James Cameron’s</b> expensive sci-fi epic certainly needs strong holds after its $134 million opening to recoup what is said to be a Pandora-sized budget (Variety is pegging it at $350 million, and <b>Cameron</b> claims the break-even point is upwards of $2 billion worldwide), and only time will tell if it gets there. Through Tuesday it is at $169 million domestic and $556 million worldwide, and a good comp for the weekend is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Rogue One: A Star Wars Story</a>, which led the box office the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2016. That film similarly opened the pre-Christmas weekend, and it launched to a tune of $155 million before a 59% decline brought it to $64 million for its second weekend and $96.1 million for the Friday through Monday (December 23-26) four-day cume. Such a gross would put <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> at a 52% decline in its second weekend and a cume approaching $300 million by Monday.<br/><br/> Given the weekend placement of Christmas Eve this year, the sophomore weekend of <b>Avatar 2</b> will almost surely fall below that of the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a>, which followed up its $77 million opening (which was December 18-20, 2009) with an astonishing $75.6 million second weekend. The sequel should run close to its predecessor on a day-by-day basis though, at least for now, and the weekdays thus far are similar (<b>Avatar</b> did $16.4 million on its first Monday and $16.1 million on its first Tuesday, while <b>The Way of Water</b> respectively did $16.3 million and $18.3 million). Of course, <b>TWOW</b> opened much larger so these are steeper drops from the weekend, but they’re still great numbers by normal movie standards. The film’s first Monday is the year’s second best after <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> ($33.8 million, and note that was Memorial Day), and the Tuesday gross is the year’s best. These weekday numbers are running closely alongside <b>Rogue One’s</b> $17.6 million gross from both its first Monday and Tuesday. <br/><br/> <b>Avatar 2’s</b> real box office story will be revealed some weeks down the line. <b>Avatar</b> finished its third weekend (which was January 1-3) with $352 million, and then it doubled that and still kept going for nearly $50 million more. Compare this to last year’s stratospheric box office of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a>, which webbed in $614 million in its first three weekends and then “only” grossed $191 million more. <b>The Way of Water</b> has a good chance of finishing the year ahead of where the first <b>Avatar</b> was, but the question is how well it can hold compared to the first film as the weeks and months roll on. Few would expect it to perform as well as the first film, which was the highest grossing of all time domestically (it is now fourth) and is still the highest worldwide (when counting re-releases), and even under performing the first by 25% would make it the 13th biggest domestic grosser of all time and fourth highest grosser worldwide. Internationally it faces some hurdles vis a vis the first film, notably that the China market is taking a beating from Covid and that the film won’t release in Russia (combined those two markets contributed nearly $320 million to the original <b>Avatar</b>), but the overseas numbers are still a major driver here and it could cross $1 billion worldwide by the end of the year if not shortly after, becoming just the fourth film since the start of the pandemic to do so.<br/><br/> The most notable of the newcomers is another long-in-the-waiting sequel. DreamWorks Animations’ <b>Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</b> comes 11 years after <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Shrek</a>-spinoff <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots</a> and hits 4,000+ theaters. Now the sequel, which opened Wednesday and brings back <b>Antonio Banderas</b> and <b>Salma Hayek</b> to voice Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws respectively, plays this season’s <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a>. That animated sequel opened on the Wednesday before Christmas last year, five days after the release of <b>No Way Home</b>, and it was a reliable wing-man as <b>Spidey</b> tore up box office records. The box office on <b>Sing 2</b> ($163 million domestic and $408 million worldwide) and <b>Puss in Boots</b> ($149 million domestic and $555 million worldwide) suggest where <b>The Last Wish</b> could end up, though those are optimistic comps. <b>Puss in Boots</b> opened to $34.1 million back in October 2011, while <b>Sing 2</b> opened to a $22.3 million three-day (held back by Christmas Eve falling on Friday) and $39.6 million Wed-Sun opening a year ago. The cume from the 25 international markets where <b>The Last Wish</b> opened earlier this month is an unremarkable $18.8 million so far, but the good news is that the $80 million budget is much smaller than the first film’s $130 million. More good news is that audiences love the film, giving it an A CinemaScore ahead of the first film’s A-, and critics have also given it the stamp of approval with its 96% Tomatometer, ahead of the first film’s 86%.<br/><br/> Another $80 million budgeted film, but a much tougher sell with general audiences, is the 3+ hour period drama <b>Babylon</b>. <b>Damien Chazelle</b> directs and <b>Brad Pitt</b> and <b>Margot Robbie</b> star in this tale of Hollywood as it transitions from the silent to sound eras. It’s hard not to think of the recent star-studded period film <b>Amsterdam</b>, which also co-starred <b>Margot Robbie</b> and also cost $80 million, but that ended up as one of the year’s biggest flops after it opened it October, grossing a scant $14.9 million domestic and $31.2 million worldwide. Paramount’s <b>Babylon</b>, which bows in 3,342 theaters, fortunately looks to avert such a disastrous result, but unfortunately it looks more like <b>Chazelle’s</b> own <a class="a-link-normal" href="">First Man</a> which grossed $44.9 million domestically and $106 million worldwide than it does the filmmaker’s previous Hollywood saga<a class="a-link-normal" href="">La La Land</a> which was a smash with $151 million domestic and $471 million worldwide. Reviews are mixed (60% on Rotten Tomatoes), which can hurt considering it’s a prestige film with a lengthy runtime.<br/><br/> The other wide release hitting screens Friday is <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody</a> from Sony/TriStar. The film looks like it will have a tough time grossing an adequate amount relative to its $45 million price tag, with last year’s <b>Aretha Franklin</b> biopic <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Respect</a> (which tallied just $24.3 million domestic and $32.9 million worldwide) being a better comp than the hit musical biopics of recent years such as <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Elvis</a>, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Rocketman</a>, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Bohemian Rhapsody</a>.<br/><br/> In the specialty box office, <b>The Whale’s</b> roughly 600 theater expansion is one to keep an eye on. From just six theaters, the A24 release has grossed $596k through its second weekend with the highest theater average of any film this year, and now it sees if the fever for the film can continue as it opens nationwide. The <b>Darren Aronofsky</b>-directed story of an extremely obese man reconnecting with his estranged daughter is a comeback film for <b>Brendan Fraser</b> who is an Oscar frontrunner for Best Actor, and while many Oscar hopefuls have been sluggish at the box office, there is hope that this film bucks the trend. Also notable in the specialty box office is the limited opening of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Women Talking</a> from United Artists Releasing. This highly acclaimed (89% on RT) drama from writer/director <b>Sarah Polley</b> stars <b>Rooney Mara</b>, <b>Claire Foy</b>, <b>Jessie Buckley</b>, <b>Judith Ivey</b>, <b>Ben Whishaw</b>, and <b>Frances McDormand</b>. Sam Mendelsohn <> Thu, 22 Dec 2022 21:20:54 +0000 Avatar: The Way of Water’ Dives In With Below-Expectations $134 Million Debut After a 13 year gap, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> is finally here. <b>James Cameron’s</b> first of many planned sequels to <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a>, the world’s highest grossing film of all time (which itself topped <b>Cameron’s</b> own Titanic as the highest grossing film of all time), opened below expectations with $134 million. Yes, this is still a huge opening, but it is not the sort of start you would hope for on a film that, as <b>Cameron</b> claims, would “have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” to break even. With that said (and whether or not that statement regarding the film’s breakeven point is fully accurate), this is not a film to count out, and it could see strong numbers for the rest of the year and well into the new year. Either way, it’s great to have a heavy hitter back in theaters again, and <b>Avatar: TWOW</b> led an overall box office of $152 million, making this the second highest grossing weekend of the past five months.<br/><br/> There are a few ways of looking at the opening of <b>The Way of Water</b>, and they boil down to the question of if <b>Avatar 2</b> will end up as a typical huge blockbuster or if it plays like another <b>James Cameron</b> box office phenomenon. On one hand, it’s “just” the fifth best opening of the year and 37th biggest of all time, tied with <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Batman</a> (though it may end up over or under once the actuals come out) but not exactly numbers fit for the sequel to the film that broke nearly every box office record in the books. On the other hand, it’s the sixth best opening ever for December, the month’s best non-MCU and non-Star Wars opening, 74% ahead of the first <b>Avatar</b> ($77 million) and 5.5% ahead of this year’s own box office champ <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> ($127 million). If it plays like <b>The Batman</b>, which went on to gross $369 million (a 2.8 multiplier, better legs than any of this year’s MCU films), then it’d be hard not to be underwhelmed by the sequel, even putting aside its allegedly gargantuan budget (such a finish would be less than half of the first <b>Avatar’s</b> $750 million cume in its original release). However, playing closer to <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b>, which had a 5.7 multiplier and grossed $719 million, is not out of the question, which would consequently put it in the league of <b>Cameron’s</b> other box office smashes. Ending up somewhere in between seems like the likeliest bet, but it’s ultimately too early to make any calls on this one. <br/><br/> We’ll get a better sense of the film’s fate over the next two weeks which can essentially play like a giant long weekend with Christmas falling next Sunday, New Year’s the following Sunday, and plenty of days off school and work between now and then. There’s reason to believe the legs on <b>TWOW</b> will be unusually strong. For one, around 1/5th of the film’s presales are post-opening weekend, compared to a negligible amount on the typical big blockbuster. We’re also already seeing concrete signs that this is less front-loaded than the average franchise film, with Saturday’s gross coming in at 16% below Friday’s. That’s the best Saturday hold for a $100+ million opener since <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Frozen II</a> in 2019 which actually grew 19% in its second day of release (for comparison’s sake, <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b> dropped 27% Friday to Saturday and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a> dropped 39%). No big blockbusters are coming out until <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania</a> releases on February 17th, and while that’s no guarantee of strong legs, it does mean <b>TWOW</b> has the premium screens largely to itself for two months. <br/><br/> That’s good news for the film which is doing 31% of its business from IMAX and other premium large formats (aka PLFs), not to mention an additional 31% from 3D screens separate from the PLFS. Other good news is that audiences like the film, with the A CinemaScore matching the first film. Also, don’t forget that an unremarkable opening followed by extraordinary legs is the <b>James Cameron</b> box office pattern, with <b>Titanic</b> having a multiplier of 21 to propel it from an opening of $28.6 million to a cume of $601 million in its initial release, and <b>Avatar</b> having a multiplier of 9.7. With a bigger opening, <b>TWOW</b> bound to be more frontloaded, but a more modest but still realistic multiplier of 4.7 would be enough to make it into the top ten of the all time domestic box office. <br/><br/> Internationally the film opened to $301 million, bringing the global weekend total to $435 million. It’s the second biggest global start of the year, right at the tail of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</a>’ $442 million global bow. 3D and PLFs are ruling overseas as well, with the combined total of the formats making up two-thirds of the box office, and it is the second highest global opening ever for IMAX, where it brought in $48.8 million from 1,543 screens across 80 markets. The biggest international market for <b>The Way of Water’s</b> opening was China with $57.1 million, a nice addition to the box office but still a disappointingly low start as a result of the country going through a Covid surge. The China release was seen as a boon for <b>TWOW</b> given the huge numbers the first film did in the country ($262 million including the re-releases) and the small amount of Hollywood films that even made it to the market in recent years. However, it may end up as a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, the international debut is a strong one. Other markets in the top five include South Korea ($24.7 million), France ($19.3 million) and Germany ($19.9 million) which saw their best openings since the start of the pandemic, and India ($18.1 million) where it had the second highest non-local opening of all time. <br/><br/> Beyond <b>Avatar 2</b>, there’s hardly any action at the box office. When <b>Avatar</b> opened in the same weekend in 2009, the rest of the box office grossed a total of $61 million. This weekend, the runners up had a collective cume of a pitiful $18 million. Yes, the slate of new titles this month would likely have been stronger if there weren’t a high profile sequel sucking up all the oxygen, but even in 2019 when <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker</a> opened in the pre-Christmas weekend, the other films in theaters totaled $70 million. It would be nice to say that <b>Avatar 2</b> is leading a strong end of the year box office wave, but it is more accurate to say it is keeping the box office on life support. Hopefully the next week’s releases, which include <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Babylon</a>, and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody</a>, will help balance things out.<br/><br/> There isn’t much of note in the rest of the box office, and nothing outside of the top five even grossed over $1 million. The one film to hold notably well was <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Violent Night</a>, which held onto second place in its third weekend, coming ahead of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a> after spending two weekends behind it. The R-rated Christmas action-comedy was down just 36% (about the same as last weekend) with $5.6 million, bringing the total to $35 million. With a worldwide cume of $55 million, the $20 million budgeted film has one of the season&#039;s merrier balance sheets. <br/><br/> <b>Black Panther</b> 2 came in third with $5.4 million, bringing the total to $419 million. It is now the eighth highest grossing MCU film and should finish as the seventh, and it is also the year’s second highest grossing film as of now. Worldwide the cume is $786 million. <br/><br/><a class="a-link-normal" href="">Strange World</a> came in fourth as it brought in $2.2 million in its fourth weekend for a cume of $33.8 million domestic and $57 million worldwide. Fifth place went to <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Menu</a> with $1.7 million, pushing the total to $32.1 million domestic and $61.3 million worldwide. Sam Mendelsohn <> Sun, 18 Dec 2022 22:16:43 +0000 ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ All Set For Massive Box Office Wave There’s no doubt that <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a> will be massive, the question is just how massive. After the pitifully low box office last weekend, where all films grossed just $37.6 million making it the second lowest grossing weekend of the year, the sequel to the world’s highest grossing film of all time comes out after a gap of 13 years. The box office still has many hurdles ahead, but at least for the rest of the year theaters should be packed with audiences eager to return to the world of Pandora.<br/><br/> <b>James Cameron’s</b> latest sci-fi epic, which is the first of numerous planned sequels, fittingly picks up over a decade after the events of the first <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar</a>, with a returning cast that includes <b>Sam Worthington</b>, <b>Zoe Saldaña</b>, <b>Stephen Lang</b>, <b>Giovanni Ribisi</b>, and <b>Sigourney Weaver</b>. Among the new cast members is <b>Kate Winslet</b> who re-teams with <b>Cameron</b> 25 years after <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Titanic</a>, which held the all-time box office record for 12 years before <b>Cameron</b> dethroned himself with <b>Avatar</b>. Can lightning strike for a third time for the king of the box office? The first <b>Avatar</b> had a $750 million domestic cume and $2.74 billion worldwide cume from its original release (re-releases put it at $785 million domestic, now the fourth-highest gross of all time, and $2.92 billion worldwide, the highest gross of all time), and it would of course be foolhardy to expect a repeat of that business. Still, there’s a good chance we’ll see the all-time top ten lists be shaken up, and the film may be 2022’s highest grosser, at least globally if not domestically (<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Top Gun: Maverick</a> currently holds those crowns with $719 million domestic and $1.49 billion worldwide). <br/><br/> Back in 2009, <b>Avatar</b> opened to $77 million, hardly an opening that you’d expect to lead to all-time high box office numbers, but the film, which was a breakthrough for 3D cinema, was a true phenomenon, just like <b>Titanic</b> before it. The second weekend was just 1.8% below the first, and the film dropped just 9.4% in the third weekend. It may not have had a record-breaking opening (though it does actually hold the record for the highest opening for a live action film not based on any preexisting IP), but to date it is the topper when it comes to third, fourth, fifth, and sixth weekends (the subsequent weekend records are held by none other than <b>Titanic</b>). The multiplier was an astonishing 9.7. <br/><br/> However, <b>The Way of Water</b> performs, it is certain to follow a different, more front-loaded trajectory. The opening weekend could be the year’s biggest (<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</a>’ $187 million debut is current champion), and it may even join the club of just eight films so far to open above $200 million. Still, whether it performs like a “normal” big blockbuster or another title for the record books is something we won’t know until the follow-up weekends. There’s no official word on what the budget is, but <b>Cameron</b> claims the film will need to be “the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” to break even, which would mean a gross of above $2 billion (keep in mind no film since 2019 has gotten that high). Veracity of that statement aside, the legs will be the real story here, just as with <b>Cameron’s</b> earlier blockbusters. Thankfully, critics are saying the film exhibits no signs of a sophomore slump, with the 81% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes being practically on par with the first film, and many reviews are calling it another must-see big-screen experience. <br/><br/> A high share of 3D and premium large format tickets will bolster the numbers, and worldwide it could easily clear half a billion by Sunday. 15 markets got the film early on Wednesday, and the strong opening day is 70% ahead of <b>Top Gun: Maverick</b> in like-for-likes. Though <b>The Way of Water</b> won’t get a release in Russia (and <b>Avatar</b> did $116 million in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States), the rest of the world gets it this weekend, including China where few Hollywood blockbusters have released this year. The market has been in a funk due to Covid and the film could get off to a sluggish start as a result, but <b>Avatar</b> is a hot commodity in the Middle Kingdom. China was the second-biggest market for the first <b>Avatar</b>, grossing $203 million in its initial release, and Chinese audiences have not forgotten about the film, with the 2021 re-release boasting a gross of $57.7 million.<br/><br/> The windfall from <b>Avatar 2</b> will undoubtedly be great for theaters, but such gains are temporary and one film can only do so much, as we saw with the huge numbers on <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a> which were only enough to keep the box office above $100 million for two weekends. Next Wednesday comes the release of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Puss in Boots: The Last Wish</a>, and we may be in for a repeat of last winter when <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spider-Man: No Way Home</a> shattered records, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Sing 2</a> had a solid take home, and nearly every other film was a box office disaster. <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Babylon</a> and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">I Wanna Dance with Somebody</a> come next Friday, and hopefully they as well as some of the specialty box office titles can find an audience and the January releases can keep the momentum up, bucking the trend of a yo-yoing box office that has been with us since summer ended. Sam Mendelsohn <> Thu, 15 Dec 2022 21:57:21 +0000 ‘Wakanda Forever’ Tops For 5th Time In Year’s 2nd Worst Weekend As we await the opening of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Avatar: The Way of Water</a>, the weekend’s box office was once again terrible, just narrowly avoiding being the year’s worst. With nothing new opening wide, the overall gross from all films declined 33% from last weekend for a cume of $35.5 million, the second worst of the year after January 28-30’s $34.9 million cume. Studios are understandably wary of opening ahead of the sequel to the world’s highest grossing film of all time, but the box office is suffering as a result, with another weekend that would have been the worst in decades before the pandemic.<br/><br/> The top five was entirely unchanged from last weekend. Unsurprisingly, <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Black Panther: Wakanda Forever</a> came in first, tying with its predecessor for a total of five number one weekends. The sequel was down 37% for an $11.1 million weekend, bringing its cume to $410 million. This puts it right on the verge of crossing <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness</a> $411 million total, which will make it the second highest grossing film of the year thus far and the eighth-highest grosser in the <b>MCU</b>. The global cume is now at $768 million.<br/><br/> Second place went to <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Violent Night</a> with $8.7 million, a great hold as it dropped just 35%. The R-rated action-comedy with Santa Claus as the hero has a ten day cume of $26.7 million, which is very solid for the $20 million budgeted film. It’s running just slightly behind the 2015 Christmas horror film <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Krampus</a> (ten day cume of $28.6 million) which opened stronger ($16.3 million compared to $13.5 million) but had smaller weekday grosses and a smaller second weekend gross ($8.4 million, down 48%). <b>Krampus</b> finished with a cume of $42.7 million domestic and $61.5 million worldwide, numbers that <b>Violent Night</b>, which currently has a global cume of $41.8 million, could end up surpassing. <br/><br/> <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Strange World</a> took third with $3.6 million, down 29%. Yes, that’s a good hold, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the year’s biggest flops. The cume on Disney’s expensive animated film (reported budget estimates range from $130 to $180 million) is just $30.5 million domestic and $53.5 million worldwide, and its post-third weekend domestic cume is less than half of where <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Encanto</a> was last year at the same point in its release ($71.9 million, before finishing with a cume of $96 million domestic and $257 million worldwide). <br/><br/> <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Menu</a> ended up in fourth with $2.7 million, continuing to hold well with a decline of just 22%. The film is at $29 million domestic and $57.7 million worldwide. It will soon double its $30 million production budget, and though the numbers aren’t sensational, it’s looking like a solid hit if it can keep the holds up, and it’s among the most impressive box office performances in recent months considering it is offbeat genre fare without huge names attached.<br/><br/> <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Devotion</a> rounds out the top five as it drops 27%, grossing $2 million in its third weekend. The costly aerial war epic is still struggling to take off, with a cume of just $17 million.<br/><br/> While the numbers are by and large bleak this weekend, there is one bit of good news which came out of the specialty box office. The $360k opening of A24’s <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Whale</a> in six theaters set a new record for the year’s highest theater average at $60k. The year’s previous best theater average was <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Everything Everywhere All at Once</a>, which opened to $501k from 10 theaters, averaging at $50k. That film, of course, went on to become the year’s only runaway arthouse blockbuster, grossing $70 million domestic and $103 million worldwide, setting new records for A24. Openings with high averages don’t always translate to strong numbers after expanding, as we saw with this fall’s major arthouse releases <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Tár</a> ($40k average), <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Banshees of Inisherin</a> ($46k average), and <a class="a-link-normal" href="">The Fablemans</a> ($40k average), none of which have managed to gross above $10 million despite their strong limited opening numbers. Still, it’s a positive sign for <b>The Whale</b>, which is directed by <b>Darren Aronofsky</b> and stars <b>Brendan Fraser</b> who is an Oscar frontrunner for his performance as a 600+ pound man who tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. This is one to keep an eye on when it expands on the 21st.<br/><br/> Other than <b>The Whale</b>, the specialty box office continued to lack punch this weekend. Focus’ expansion of <a class="a-link-normal" href="">Spoiler Alert</a> from 6 to 783 theaters gave it a weekend of $700k for a cume of $803k. Meanwhile, Searchlight’s<a class="a-link-normal" href="">Empire of Light</a>, the new film from <b>Sam Mendes</b>, grossed just $160k from 110 theaters. Sam Mendelsohn <> Sun, 11 Dec 2022 20:32:37 +0000