Two films battled it out over the weekend to see which would be the fabled one to take down James Cameron. Spoiler – both of them can actually lay claim to that. But only one can be No. 1. Or is that entirely true? In essence, there definitely is a dollar value attached that measures who is victorious at the box office. But in the battle between Dave Bautista and Tom Brady, one of them certainly won the battle — in bucks, at least. The GOAT’s foursome of female fans drew a larger attendance and is also likely to win out in gross when the final numbers are tallied.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin may be remembered longer as the answer to a trivia question than it will for its actual numbers, but we’ll try to have some fun with them anyway. Knock pulled in $14.1 million over the weekend, barely pushing back the mob of senior citizens who flooded the matinees of 80 For Brady. For those cynics and haters who wonder how Shyamalan continues to make movies, that number is actually the lowest opening weekend of his career — yes, lower than the mid-pandemic release of Old ($16.8 million) and that of 2006’s Lady in the Water ($18 million), which are the only two films on his resume not to gross at least $50 million. While the filmmaker has had his share of financial failures, he has not had one since 2013’s After Earth, part of a string of four consecutive flops that was then followed by four consecutive successes. The combined budgets of The Visit, Split, Glass, and Old is lower than all but two of his previous films (The Sixth Sense, The Happening). Add in Knock at the Cabin’s $20 million and it is still half as much as The Last Airbender’s cost.
Will Knock at the Cabin continue that run of successes? The film received a 68% from critics and a C from those surveyed by Cinemascore. That is certainly not Night’s first C grade, as he also achieved that with Unbreakable, The Village, and The Last Airbender. (The Happening received a D.) People may just not care for cabin films, as The Cabin the Woods also got a C grade and opened to $14.7 million. (Cinemascore had no comment on Cabin Fever or Cabin Boy.) For the record, audiences have also given C grades to Boogie Nights, Adaptation, Annihilation, At Close Range, Wonder Boys, The Thin Red Line, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Mist, and Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, all of which scored 70% or higher on the Tomatometer. This is all virtually moot though. Even if word-of-mouth plummets Knock in the coming weeks, it only needs to clear around $60 million worldwide for it to get into the black. The Visit is Shyamalan’s lowest-grossing international release ($33.2 million), and barring some huge plunge, Knock will do at least that on the domestic side. Make no mistake, there is another film in Shyamalan’s future.
Are adults of a certain age coming back to movie theaters? This is just the news that owners, managers and employees are hoping for. Maybe the simplest answer comes as a result of saying, “If you release them, they will come.” The story of 80 For Brady could have easily been just another streaming release, forgotten after opening weekend. But put four legendary actresses above the title with a little GOAT worship for superfans (and even a 64% from critics), and you’ve got yourself a $12.5 million opening weekend. That is on par with the opening for Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto (which did have some limited availability for two weeks before going wide) and the third highest opening of the young year.
That it nearly bested Cabin is either a testament to the matinee crowd or a waning interest in Shyamalan’s work. (80 For Brady’s budget is actually $8 million higher than Cabin’s, believe it or not.) Last year, Dog was a surprise February success, opening to $14.8 million and stretching itself to over $61 million. Ticket to Paradise opened to $16.5 million and finished with over $68 million. Last summer’s Where The Crawdads Sing quietly made over $90 million after just a $17.2 million start. Paramount, who has been offering special discounts in some theaters ($8 for 80), would love to see this film get over $50 million, and given that its attendance was higher than that of Knock, that is a real possibility. Only nine of the 29 films to open between $13-16 million in February have done it, but load up those matinees, let the word of mouth flow, and these mid-range success stories could be making a return to a theater near you.
All good runs come to an end, though making over $10 million in your eighth weekend of wide release is hardly the end of a good run for James Cameron and Avatar: The Way of Water. Only seven other movies can lay claim to doing that (Titanic, Avatar, Home Alone, Top Gun: Maverick, Frozen, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and that brings its total over $636 million. The film is poised to pass both Jurassic World and Titanic on the all-time chart and will then be looking at Avengers: Infinity War. That film had made $664 million by weekend eight but only with an additional $5.4 million, so Avatar is going to make up some ground. That said, it’ll be a bit trickier for Cameron’s film to join the $700 million club. Black Panther had $665 million after its eighth go-round but did so with an $8.7 million weekend. So the smart money suggests that a seventh place domestic finish and second place in 2022 behind Top Gun: Maverick is the landing for The Way of Water. It could soon be parking in third place all-time worldwide, as it has made $2.17 billion compared to Titanic’s $2.19 billion, though Cameron’s first all-timer is going to add to that total with its 25th anniversary re-release this upcoming weekend.
Continuing to have a good run of its own is Universal’s Puss In Boots: The Last Wish. Another $7.9 million this weekend was enough to pass the first film’s domestic gross of $149 million. The sequel now sits at over $151 million, more than $11 million ahead of where Sing 2 was last year when it grossed $4.2 million on its seventh weekend. $175 million should be in the bag for this animated sequel, and getting north of $180 million is not off the table yet either. Worldwide, the film is over $350 million; the first film grossed over $554 million worldwide in 2011-12. Also doing great for the studio is M3GAN which, depending on how the estimates play out, could have nestled its way into becoming the 10th highest-grossing January title ever after 31 days of release. It is hovering right next to The Book of Eli and may just barely best its fifth weekend of $3.63 million with $3.74 million, once again suggesting a final gross right in the vicinity of $95 million. It may come up just shy of nine digits, but it is certainly the most profitable film of the new year thus far, with $158 million worldwide on a $12 million budget.
As mentioned earlier, Sony’s A Man Called Otto is part of the new hope of mid-range adult entertainment drawing in crowds. This is better news for theaters than the studio, since only around half of that $53+ million it has grossed in North America goes back to them. Even with $83 million worldwide the $50 million budgeted film still needs around another $67-72 million to break even. The opposite is the case for the $7 million budget of Missing, which made nearly as much this weekend ($3.6 million) and, with over $23 million in the bank, has already cleared its profit margin and is going to have a shot to domestically outgross its predecessor, Searching, which finished with $26 million domestic and $75.4 million worldwide after initially costing just $880,000.
Last week’s ultimate third place finisher, Pathaan, fell back to 10th this week with another $2.6 million, bringing its 12-day total to $13.5 million. Movies are not the only thing boosting concession sales though. The Chosen strikes again as Fathom’s release of the season three finale grossed $3.6 million over the weekend and $5.3 million total. Then, how about a concert film to add into the mix? Trafalagar’s release of BTS: Yet To Come In Cinemas earned $5.1 million to add to its midweek haul for a current total of $8 million.
Who will win the box office next week? Will it be Channing Tatum or a return to the top for Leonardo DiCaprio? Steven Soderbergh returns to theaters with Tatum for Magic Mike’s Last Dance, a film initially slated for an HBO MAX release before being resurrected for a theatrical run. The first two films did nearly a combined $180 million domestically. Its shot at No. 1 may depend on how many are aware it’s coming out. In the other corner, James Cameron may get his next laugh if the 25th Anniversary re-release of Titanic manages to reclaim the top spot. The 3-D release for its 15th Anniversary opened to over $17 million and added more than $57 million to its legendary total. The Avatar re-release opened to $10.5 million last September, but this one could be getting ready for something even larger.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures