The second weekend in January was another four-day holiday to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr, and it proved to be another solid weekend that seems to point to movie theaters returning to normal.
This Past Weekend
UPDATE: Note that all of the actual box office for the past weekend was slightly higher than what was estimated previously. Refer to the chart below for the final actual numbers.
James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water continues its unstoppable run at the box office as it surpassed $570 million domestically over the weekend with another $31.1 million over the three-day weekend (down 32%) and $38.50 million including Monday. That puts it ahead of The Lion King live action remake from 2019 to become the 13th highest-grossing movie domestically. With no real competition over the rest of the month, one shouldn’t be surprised when it whizzes by $600 million and then starts blowing past other major blockbusters, including 1997’s Titanic.
Way of Water is doing better overseas with another $88.6 million grossed overseas through Sunday, bringing its global total to $1.89 billion, with $1.33 billion of that from international territories. Cameron’s latest is now the third-highest grossing film in terms of global IMAX box office with $75.2 million domestic and $91.1 million overseas, not counting the $47.7 million from China alone. That’s $214 million in global box office on IMAX screens in just over a month.
Universal’s hit horror film, M3GAN, produced by Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster, did decently in its second weekend, dropping 41% but retaining second place with $17.9 million (3-day) and a projected $21.2 million including Monday. It added another $15 million overseas this weekend to bring its global total to $90.7 million in less than two weeks.
Universal also held third place with the DreamWorks Animation sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which barely lost a cent from last weekend with another $13.4 million over the three-day holiday weekend and $17.3 million with Monday. It has grossed $110.3 million domestically, which isn’t bad for a movie that opened before Christmas with just over $12 million. It has grossed $141 million overseas with another $19.8 million in 77 territories this weekend (through Sunday).
Despite making less money on Friday, Puss in Boots managed to stay ahead of Sony’s A Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks, which expanded into 3,802 theaters on Friday after racking up $6.2 million in limited release. It ended up with an estimated $12.6 million over the three-day weekend and $15 million projected for the four days, a theater-average of $3,945, which was better than all the new wide releases. Its $21.2 million is not great, but audiences seemed to like the movie more than critics (such as Below the Line’s J. Don Birnam and Above the Line’s own Isaac Feldberg.)
Gerard Butler returned to theaters with the action-thriller, Plane, teaming him with Luke Cage star Mike Colter, which Lionsgate released in 3,023 theaters. Although it ended up with almost the same amount as Otto in Thursday previews ($630,000), it fell behind on Friday with $3.5 million to Otto’s $4 million, leaving it having to settle for fifth place with an estimated $10 million in three days and $11.6 million for the four-day weekend.
New Line’s comedy remake of House Party, which was originally meant to stream on HBO Max, got a nominal release into 1,500 theaters, where it managed to bring in an estimated $4.5 million over the four-day weekend and $3.9 million not including Monday. That sound pretty bad, but its $3,214 per-theater average was only slightly behind the other two movies above.
A24 stealthily expanded Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale into 1,500 theaters despite Brendan Fraser missing out on the Golden Globe last week, though Fraser and co-star Hong Chau did get SAG nominations and the movie got an equally surprising PGA nomination. It remained in eighth place with $1.4 million (down 6% from last weekend) and $1.8 million with Monday, bringing its domestic total to just over $11 million.
IFC Films gave the micro-budget horror film, Skinamarink, a wide release into 692 theaters, and sell-out showings on Thursday and Friday in L.A. and New York seemed to point to a minor hit, though it actually ended up under $800,000 for the extended holiday weekend or $1,153 per-theater.
It also fared better than the religious thriller, The Devil Conspiracy, released by Samuel Goldwyn into 925 theaters, but it only made $470,000 or around $500 per-theater.
As far as limited releases, Super Ltd released the French Oscar contender, Saint Omer, directed by Alice Diop, into 245 locations, where it brought in $62,500, which is about $255 per-theater.
Magnolia Pictures seems to be having a relative hit with Japanese filmmaker Kore-Eda’s new drama, Broker, which added another $297,000 over the three-day weekend ($353,000 with Monday), which brings its total to $539,000. In 2018, Magnolia released Kore-Eda’s previous movie, Shoplifters, which received an Oscar nomination, representing Japan, and that grossed $3.3 million in North America.
Paramount Pictures finally ended No Way Home’s box office domination with the latest “requel” of Wes Craven’s beloved Scream horror franchise, which took in $30 million in 3,664 theaters and $33.9 million including Monday. With a sequel already on the way in just two short months, it benefited from the younger moviegoers who had little concern for the Omicron surge.
Spider-Man: No Way Home fell to second place with $20 million, $25 million for the four-day weekend, but with the Monday holiday, it also crossed the $700 million mark, passing Black Panther to become the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time. (It would eventually pass the original Avatar to take third place.)
GKIDS released the animated Belle into 1,338 theaters, where it opened in seventh place with $1.6 million.
This is going to be a rough weekend, despite there being four wide or moderate new releases.
The widest new release of the weekend is Sony/Screen Gems’ MISSING, a sequel (of sorts) to the 2018 thriller, SEARCHING, continuing exec. producer Timur Bekmambetov’s “Screenlife” ethos. This one has a completely different cast and director Aneesh Chaganty produced this one, which is directed by the original film’s editors. MISSING stars Nia Long as a woman who goes on vacation to Colombia with her boyfriend only to vanish, forcing her daughter (Storm Reid) to go looking for her. Like SEARCHING the entire film takes place on a laptop screen, and early reviews have generally been positive. With solid early reviews, Screen Gems is releasing the movie into 3,000 theaters on Friday, where it could bring in $7 to 8 million, putting it up against Puss in Boots and Otto for third place.
Less is known about the Lionsgate thriller, Alice, Darling, starring Anna Kendrick, which will get a wide release into an unknown number of theaters. Mary Nighy’s feature directorial debut is about a woman trying to escape from an abusive boyfriend. Kendrick has been doing the talk show rounds, but without an advance theater count, it’s hard to imagine this will be making more than $2 million this weekend.
Crunchyroll releases its latest anime with the obnoxiously long title of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond, another feature based on a popular cartoon series that’s being released into an unknown number of theaters. Crunchyroll released three movies in 2022 which ranged from the $32.1 million grossed by Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero to December’s The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie, which only made $500,000. Reincarnated could break into the top ten, but anime is hard to gauge in terms of how a cartoon series can translate into domestic box office. (GKIDS is also releasing the animated New Gods: Yang Jian fairly wide this weekend, which could steal some of this movie’s audience.)
Florian Zeller’s The Son, starring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, and newcomer Zen McGrath, is finally being released by Sony Pictures Classics into a few hundred theaters, so not nationwide persé but not just platforming either. Critics have torn this one apart vs. the overarching praise given to Zeller’s Oscar-winning debut, The Father. (We’ll have an interview with Zeller on Above the Line sometime this week.)
Lastly, A24 is giving a limited release to When You Finish Saving the World, Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, starring Julianne Moore and Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard, which premiered at Sundance almost exactly a year ago.
Edward Douglas has been writing about the box office for 21 years at places like ComingSoon.net, The Tracking Board, and many others, but mostly under the banner of “The Weekend Warrior.” He’s also a film critic with bylines at Film Journal, The New York Daily News, Den of Geek, and other places.