‘Avatar: Way of Water,’ ‘M3GAN,’ and the MLK Holiday Mean a $100 Million Box Office Weekend

Including "A Man Called Otto" and "Plane," five films grossed over $10 million in a weekend. That happened only once in 2022.
M3GAN in M3GAN directed by Gerard Johnstone.
Photo Credit: Geoffrey Short/Uni

With about $100 million for the three-day Martin Luther King holiday box office weekend, “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) and “M3GAN” (Universal) accounted for about half of that total. That’s not great compared to other pre-Covid MLK weekends — 2018-2020 grossed between $130 million-$197 million, with lower ticket prices — but with three other titles grossing over $10 million were evidence of some good news for theaters.

One reason this weekend fell short was the absence of strong Christmas holdovers and awards-related expansions, which suggests a lack of available films rather than lack of interest. This weekend provided five films grossing over $10 million; last year that happened only once, over July 4th weekend.

The holiday boosted Sunday totals and lessened holdover drops, but the 32 percent fall for James Cameron’s smash remains an impressive. The same weekend for the initial “Avatar” was off 15 percent, “Titanic” up 5 percent. “Way of Water” is playing like superior blockbuster rather than a phenomenon. Its worldwide total is now just under $1.9 billion.

“M3GAN” fell 41 percent, an excellent hold for a horror title. “Black Phone” dropped 48 percent in its second weekend and that came with a July 4th boost. This Blumhouse production is easily on its way to $100 million domestic.

The next three titles all came out ahead of industry consensus, but consistent with our pre-weekend predictions.  Look at “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (Universal): It’s down only one percent for #3 in its second week of PVOD home play. It stands at  $106 million.

"A Man Called Otto"
“A Man Called Otto”©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“A Man Called Otto” (Sony) at #4, $12.6 million, expanded much better than expected. This film seemed left for dead after its weak platform debut (hurt by mediocre reviews and lack of awards attention), but here it is and playing particularly well in heartland situations. It seems to have benefited from initial world of mouth in 637 theaters last week: “Otto” has already grossed more than any of the fall awards contenders similarly aimed at older audiences.

“Plane,” a Lionsgate acquisition, earned $10 million. That’s OK, not great, but it’s exactly the kind of title theaters need to buttress grosses. The Gerald Butler-starring actioner showed initial positive interest by increasing 8 percent over preview and Friday numbers on day two.

“House Party” (Warner Bros. Discovery) did $3.9 million in 1,350 theaters. The New Line production was originally meant for an HBO Max debut; instead it went theatrical with a modest release and lower advertising.

Indian Telugu-language action-comedy “Waltair Veerayya” (Indin) placed #10 in limited release. Just below is “Skinamarink” (IFC), a micro-budget Canadian horror film with strong advance social media interest. It played in 692 theaters, many of them partial schedules. At #11, it grossed $746,000, impressive for its scale.

The weekend was 39 percent better than last year; through 15 days, total grosses are 30 percent better year to date. It represents 76 percent of 2020, with the four-week rolling comparison improving to 60 percent. Still not great, but going in the right direction.

Among awards contenders, “The Whale” (A24) remains the sole Top Ten entry. With a big increase in theaters, it passed $10 million and has more potential. Other key titles getting major attention — “The Fabelmans” (Universal), “TÁR” (Focus), “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight) — are seeing more boosts in home viewing than in theaters.

Of note among new specialized releases is “Saint Omer” (Neon). France’s submission for International Oscar eschewed a platform release for an unusual wider play (245 theaters) aimed at elevating its presence while Academy members are voting. It resulted in a weak total ($62,500), but its two key Manhattan runs each grossed around $10,000. The bet is this strategy increases its chances for a nomination with the potential of multi-platform benefits to follow.


The Top 10 

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #1

$31,118,000 (-32%) in 4,045 (-295) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $7,693; Cumulative: $562,919,000

2. M3GAN (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$17,920,000 (-41%) in 3,605 (+96) theaters; PTA: $4,971; Cumulative: $56,454,000

3. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #3; also on PVOD

$13,400,000 (-1%) in 3,687 (-232) theaters; PTA: $3,634; Cumulative: $106,370,000

4. A Man Called Otto (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$12,650,000 (+201%) in 3,802 (+3,165) theaters; PTA: $3,327; Cumulative: $18,873,000

5. Plane (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 62; Est. budget: $25 million

$10,004,000 in 3,023 theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $10,004,000

6. House Party (Warner Bros. Discovery) NEW – Cinemascore:; Metacritic:41; Est. budget: $(unknown)

$3,900,000 in 1,350 theaters; PTA: $2,786; Cumulative: $3,900,000

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Disney) Week 10; Last weekend #5

$2,184,000 (-38%) in 1,910 (-345) theaters; PTA: $1,143; Cumulative: $449,096,000

8. The Whale (A24) Week 6; Last weekend #7

$1,450,000 (-4%) in 1,500 (+665) theaters; PTA: $1,500; Cumulative: $10,743,000

9. Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$1,175,000 (-51%) in 2,205 (-979) theaters; PTA: $533; Cumulative: $21,904,000

10. Waltair Veeraya (Indin) NEW; Est. budget: $1.5 million

$1,080,000 in 350 theaters; PTA: $3086; Cumulative: $1,080,000



Other Specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first two weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are tracked.


Skinamarink (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Fantasia 2022

$746,000 in 692 theaters; PTA: $1,078

Saint Omer (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 90; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto, New York 2022

$62,500 in 245 theaters; PTA: $255

The Devil Conspiracy (Goldwyn/Third Day) NEW – Metacritic: 37; Festivals include: Brussels Fantastic 2022

$414,000 in 925 theaters; PTA: $448

Jethica (Cinedigm) NEW – Festivals include: South by Southwest 2022

$2,554 in 1 theater; PTA: $2,554

Broker (Neon) Week 3

$297,000 in 271 (+257) theaters; PTA: $1,096; Cumulative: $482,253

Turn Every Page (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$16,496 in 4 (no change) theaters; PTA: $4,224; Cumulative: $66,830

Babylon (Paramount) Week 4

$605,000 in 678 (-1,703) theaters; Cumulative: $14,813,000

Corsage (IFC) Week 4

$85,000 in 202 (-115) theaters; Cumulative: $553,213

Women Talking (United Artists) Week 4

$189,000 in 67 (+38) theaters;  Cumulative: $602,401

Living (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 4

$88,182 in 32 (+21) theaters; Cumulative: $219,764

No Bears (Janus) Week 4   1

$ 11,560 in 2 (+1); Cumulative: $53,148

Empire of Light (Searchlight) Week 6

$20,000 in 48 (-72) theaters;  Cumulative: $1,147,000

The Menu (Searchlight) Week 8; also on PVOD and on HBO Max

$268,000 in 350 (+270) theaters; Cumulative: $38,175,000

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Neon) Week 8

$11,900 in 16 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $347,517

The Fabelmans (Universal) Week 9; also on PVOD

$520,000 in 808 (-190) theaters; Cumulative: $14,215,000

EO (Janus) Week 9

$52,800 in 70 (+25) theaters; Cumulative: $653,246

The Holy Spider (Utopia) Week 12

$ 30,792 in 95 (+85) theaters; Cumulative: $260,738

The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight) Week 14; also on HBO Max and VOD

$76,000 in 55 (no change) theaters; Cumulative: $9,278,000

TÁR (Focus) Week 15; also on VOD

$68,000 in 60 (+8) theaters; Cumulative: $5,799,000

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.