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A Terrible Box-Office Weekend, and Then ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

At least the weekend total of $37 million is unlikely to be matched for a long time. Next weekend might be six times better.

Avatar: The Way of Water

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

At $37 million total, it can’t get much worse than this weekend. This year, it won’t: Thursday’s first shows for James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) should easily double that take. By the end of the weekend, it could top $200 million.

This was the second worst weekend of 2022 (by only a small margin over the end of January). We can’t blame the calendar: The same date last year took in $44 million. In 2019, it was $118 million.

With no new studio openings, the share compared to pre-Covid 2019 (with 20 percent lower ticket prices) is 31 percent. That year saw “Jumanji: The Next Level” open to $59 million, which disproves the idea that this date should be avoided.

Of course, one big reason to avoid this weekend is it’s immediately followed by “Avatar.” With studios making fewer movies, they’re loathe to put a big release’s second weekend against a blockbuster.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Disney) was #1 for a fifth and final time ($11 million, $409 million domestic total), down 37 percent. That’s a decent hold at this stage, but with no significant new alternatives it fell more than all but one of the other top 10 titles.

Give credit to the struggling “The Fabelmans” (Universal) for dropping only seven percent. But that comes with a caveat: Steven Spielberg’s film added 335 theaters (now 973), with its per-theater average down about a third. The film has a pulse, but not enough to argue with Universal’s decision to place it on PVOD this week in hopes of capturing more of its core older audience.

Allen Fraser/courtesy of Universal Pictures

Universal’s “Violent Night,” which dropped 35 percent, had a much better hold than normal for a horror title’s second weekend. It’s #2, already at $26 million, and likely to get some holiday playdates. “Strange World” (Disney) won’t rise above disaster level, but at #3 it dropped only 22 percent. “The Menu” (Searchlight) is #4, only down 14 percent. It could outgross Disney’s $200 million animated entry.

The sole new film — not a new title — in the top 10 is Focus’ “Spoiler Alert” expanding in week two to 783 theaters for only $700,000.

That is less than what “Met Opera: The Hours” (Fathom) grossed to reach #9 for the weekend. Its $792,000 take in 894 theaters came from a single showing on Saturday. It’s not a film; it was a live opera performance transmitted to theaters. That makes our top 10 list one of presentations in theaters for which the public buys tickets, some of which are not movies. As a compromise, we extended the list this week to 11 titles to include 10 films.

The Top 10 (+1; see above)

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #1

$11,100,000 (-37%) in 3,725 (-130) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $2,980; Cumulative: $409,811,000

2. Violent Night (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$8,700,000 (-35%) in 3,723 (+41) theaters; PTA: $2,337; Cumulative: $26,694,000

3. Strange World (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$3,600,000 (-29%) in 3,560 (-614) theaters; PTA: $1,011; Cumulative: $30,454,000

4. The Menu (Searchlight) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$2,700,000 (-22%) in 2,710 (-100) theaters; PTA: $996; Cumulative: $29,028,000

5. Devotion (S0ny) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$2,000,000 (-27%) in 3,458 (+53) theaters; PTA: $578; Cumulative: $16,972,000

6. Black Adam (WBD) Week 7; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,340,000 (-14%) in 2,143 (-88) theaters; PTA: $625; Cumulative: $166,873

7. The Fabelmans (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #8

$1,180,000 (-7%) in 973 (+345) theaters; PTA: $1,213; Cumulative: $7,330,000

8. MET Opera: The Hours (Fathom) NEW

$791,734 in 894 theaters; PTA: $958; Cumulative: $791,734

9. I Heard the Bells (Fathom) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$750,713 (-62%) in 1,180 (+98) theaters; PTA: $636; Cumulative: $4,073,000

10. Spoiler Alert (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #19

$700,000 (+744%) in 783 theaters (+777); PTA: $895; Cumulative: $802,593

11. Ticket to Paradise (Universal) Week 8; Last weekend #10; also on PVOD and Peacock

$600,000 (-30%) in 1,394 (-321) theaters; PTA: $430; Cumulative: $67,514,00

 

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