Movie theater operators owe a debt of gratitude to the Na’vi and the new queen of artificial intelligence.
January tends to be a slow time of year at the box office. However, the successful sequel to James Cameron”Avatar: The Path of Water“and Universal’s Viral Horror Movie”M3GAN“continue to take North America by storm, prevailing over three new releases nationwide over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
“Avatar 2” held the top spot, for the fifth consecutive weekend, with $31.1 million from 4,045 theaters during the traditional three-day window and an estimated $38.5 million through Monday. How popular has “The Way of Water” remained at the box office? Well, to put those numbers into perspective, the sci-fi epic has earned more in its fifth opening weekend than many pandemic-era movies have managed to gross in their opening weekend. And it won’t face much high-profile box office competition until Disney and Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” opens in late February.
So far, the Disney and 20th Century megastore has generated $570 million in North America and a staggering $1.89 billion worldwide. “The Way of Water” already ranks as the seventh biggest global release in history. It will soon dethrone 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which sits at No. 6 with $1.91 billion.
Meanwhile, “M3GAN” finished in second place with 17.9 million from 3,605 theaters over the weekend and an estimated $21.2 million as of Monday, a 40% decrease from its debut. Those are excellent results for the horror film, which cost $12 million to produce and has racked up $59 million to date.
In terms of new offerings, Sony”A man named Otto”, a tearjerker film starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy widower, was expanded successfully and opened wide, grossing $12.6 million in 3,802 theaters over the traditional weekend and an estimated $15 million so far. Monday. That ticket sales was enough for fourth place, behind Universal’s animated adventure “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which held up particularly strong over the holiday weekend. The family film added $13.4 million over the weekend and $17.3 million through Monday, bringing its domestic tally to $110 million.
After two weeks of limited release, “A Man Called Otto” has generated $21.2 million. It’s one of the rare pandemic-era movies aimed at adult audiences to effectively maintain momentum with a traditional platform release, which has allowed “Otto” to generate positive buzz.
“This is a very good opening for a character-driven comedy-drama, with excellent input from older moviegoers,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research.
Gerard Butler’s action thriller “Plane” and the Warner Bros. remake of “House Party” also opened this weekend, ranking fifth and sixth, respectively, on domestic box office charts.
“Plane” took off with $10 million in 3,023 theaters over the weekend and an estimated $11.6 million through Monday, a decent if unspectacular start for the roughly $40 million-budget film. (Lionsgate picked up the domestic rights for less.) The action flick, which stars Butler as a pilot who saves his passengers from lightning, only to find things are about to get worse, received a “B+” CinemaScore from audiences. Initial ticket buyers were predominantly older men, as 77% of the 25+ crowd and 55% were male.
“House Party,” meanwhile, raked in $3.8 million over the weekend and an estimated $4.5 million through Monday. The reboot of the 1990 comedy classic was commissioned by HBO Max, but the studio opted to release it theatrically. With seemingly little promotion and dismal reviews (with a 25% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), “House Party” struggled to attract an audience to the big screen. There’s hope, at Warner Bros. at least, that it becomes a bigger draw by the time the movie hits streaming. The theatrical release, says Franchise Entertainment Research’s Gross, is “designed to raise the profile of the film before it heads to HBO. [Max].”
There were several bright spots in the art and essay sector, including A24’s “The Whale” and IFC’s turmoil.”skinamarink.”
After several weeks in limited edition, “The Whale” exceeded $10 million in national ticket sales, a remarkable achievement for independent films in today’s fractured movie-going environment. In pre-COVID times, those ticket sales wouldn’t be particularly impressive. But adult dramas have had trouble recovering.
“Skinamarink” debuted at No. 11, grossing $746,000 from 692 theaters and an estimated $798,000 as of Monday ($1,000 average per location). That’s not bad considering the gruesome low-budget horror movie didn’t get too many daily showings on the major networks over the weekend. “Skinamarink”, which was intended to give viewers night terrors, has been successful mainly through word of mouth. The film has a production budget of $15,000.
“Once we saw the incredible response online, we knew we had to get this film into as many theaters as possible across the country,” said Arianna Bocco, President of IFC Films and IFC Midnight. “[Director] Kyle [Edward Ball] has made a film for a new generation and has once again shown what horror movies and their community are capable of even on the smallest of budgets. ‘Skinamarink’ is both terrifying and eerily familiar, and that sentiment demands a shared experience.”