Last week, for the first time since the end of September 2022, we saw three films finish with over $10 million. This week, we saw it happen for a second week in a row. It may not happen for a third, but we should enjoy the moment, especially when the holiday weekend made the top five look even better, and there is good news all around. The big blockbuster kept blockbustering, a January horror film is proving to have solid legs, a family film from the holidays continues to draw audiences, and a film aimed at adults with one of the last great movie stars may become a little word-of-mouth success. So high fives all around.
The top five list of all-time fifth weekends for wide releases welcomed a familiar title to its ranks this weekend. James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way Of Water had the second-highest fifth weekend with $31.1 million from Friday to Sunday behind only the original Avatar ($42.7 million) and ahead of Titanic ($30 million), Top Gun: Maverick ($29.6 million) and Frozen ($28.5 million). That puts its total at $563 million through the weekend and an estimated $572 million through the holiday, which gives it the eighth-highest total ever after 31 days. The Avatar sequel continues to pace ahead of Marvel’s The Avengers, which had $552.9 million at the same point. It is now trying to make gains on Jurassic World, which was over $590 million after an $18.1 million fifth weekend. $650 million is in play, and anything over $11 million next weekend will keep it trending closer to that number. Globally, the film has passed $1.9 billion, and given its trajectory, it will indeed cross the $2 billion line that Cameron said would take to get the film into profit.
M3GAN earned a shout-out in this section as it proved not to be just a one-weekend smash. Earning $17.9 million this weekend, Gerard Johnstone’s killer doll flick dropped just 41% from its opening. Apart from M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, every other horror film opening over $20 million in January fell between 50-76% in their sophomore weekend. $56.4 million through Sunday makes M3GAN the 13th highest-grossing film in January after 10 days. Does it have a shot at $100 million? Well, it had a better second weekend than four of the films on that list, all of which finished between $80-95 million. Last September’s hit, Smile, had an $18.4 million second weekend and a total of just over $50 million after it, ultimately getting itself to $105 million. M3GAN still has another two weekends before Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin opens, but it should still be in the top five then and remain in the top 10 into at least the first weekend of March. $100 million is a very real possibility.
Samuel Goldwyn managed to put The Devil Conspiracy into 925 theaters this weekend. A film with no big stars and a story about devil worshippers trying to impregnate captive women with DNA off the Shroud of Turin was in more theaters than Marcel the Shell With Shoes On ever was, and it grossed a whole $414,000 over the weekend. That is a $447 per-theater average, so the low bar has officially been set for a limited wide release in 2023.
From 1992 through 2002, Tom Hanks had nine straight films gross over $100 million. He has only had six since, but how many stars can keep up that kind of pace, especially as they take on different challenges? Then again, 12 of his 20 theatrical releases since 2004 have made over $60 million (and one of the eight that did not, News of the World, was released in pre-vaccine Dec. 2020) and A Man Called Otto is hoping it can join that list. The Sony release fully expanded this week after two weekends of limited venues, and it grossed $12.5 million for fourth place. In 2019, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood stretched a $13.2 million November opening through a holiday season that ultimately got it over $61 million. Otto is going to need some very small drops to achieve that. But again, in a period of limited releases geared towards adults, here is one that has clearly found solid early interest. The remake of the 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove is also reporting a $50 million production budget. However, if its domestic total can at least match that, another $75 million for Hanks and the film’s international appeal is not out of the question to get the total where it needs to be.
One might look at $10 million for a new Gerard Butler movie and think “not bad.” After all, that is better than Gamer, Hunter Killer, or Copshop started with. But in a history of bland titles, the biggest issue with Lionsgate’s Plane is that the film cost $50 million, and that opening is not going to help its bottom line. Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen is the only film opening in January to less than $10 million since 2010 to cross $30 million at the box office. Even if Plane were to match that film’s $36 million haul, it would still need another $90 million overseas to cover its budget, a total that Butler’s films have only hit six times and for only three of his action films (300, Geostorm, and London Has Fallen). Lionsgate has not had a theatrical release hit $40 million since Rian Johnson’s Knives Out back in 2019. Even they would have kept Glass Onion in theaters for more than a week.
Puss In Boots: The Last Wish became the fourth family film from 2022 to surpass $100 million over the weekend. $13.4 million over the weekend and an estimated $3.7 million on Monday brings its total to $110 million. That puts it just behind the pace of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which only had a $9.4 million fourth weekend. That film finished with $133 million. A bit over that would not match the original Puss In Boots’ domestic total of $149 million, but with an international addition of over $140 million to date, the film is less than $20 million away from getting into the black and the domestic side will take care of that all by itself. Another win for Universal.
The remake of House Party, scheduled for release last year, then re-purposed for a streaming release on HBO MAX, and then resurrected for theatrical release, made $4.7 million through the holiday. Turns out limited advertising and press outreach matter. The music biopic Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody made it four weeks in the top 10 with another $1.5 million over the holiday to drive its total up to $22 million. With another $27 million overseas, it is approaching $50 million, but it’s still well below what it needs to cover its $40 million budget. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spent its 10th week in the top 10 grossing an estimated $2.8 million over the holiday. It will become the 24th film to pass $450 million domestic this week.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, with Oscar hopeful Brendan Fraser, expanded its run into 1,500 theaters this week and made $1.8 million estimated over the 4-day, bringing its total to $11 million. Only four movies began in 10 or fewer theaters in 2022 and made it to $11 million – Everything Everywhere All At Once, A Man Called Otto, The Fabelmans, and Bodies Bodies Bodies. The Whale will be A24’s third movie to do so from last year. Finally, IFC’s release of horror film Skinamarink has been getting a lot of ink and response from its polarized audiences. In 692 theaters, the film made $798,000, putting it in line to be the company’s first million-dollar release since Watcher grossed $1.96 million after a wide release of 764 theaters last June.
Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian delivered a pretty solid little hit of Sundance back in 2018 called Searching that went on to gross over $26 million. Now they are back as producers and storywriters for the sequel, Missing. No Jack Lemmon or Cate Blanchett in this one, but early reactions from critics are currently solid at 75% on the Tomatometer thus far. (The first film with John Cho also had a terrific 92%.) It will hope to keep the streak of eight figures alive at the box office next week.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures