Weekend Box Office At $37M, Near 2022 Low Before ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Soaks Up All The Air


What happens when there’s no wide theatrical releases and it’s the holiday season as we emerge from the pandemic? Why, you get the second-lowest box office weekend of the year at an estimated $37.2M. We’ll see if Saturday night business is so bad that that this weekend becomes the lowest of 2022, unseating that of Jan. 28-30, when all movies grossed $34.87M, per Comscore.

Top pic this weekend is, of course, the fifth go-around of Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is estimated to make $11M. Yesterday with $2.8M, the Ryan Coogler movie crossed the four century mark with a running cume of $401.55M, pacing 5% ahead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness over 29 days.

Also, with 20th Century Studios/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water set to conquer all business next weekend with a potential $200M domestic start, nobody wants to waste the marketing dollars to play in front of that, especially when moviegoing doesn’t pick up until after Christmas, when there’s zero holiday distractions and kids go on break.

A year ago, you’ll remember Disney made the mistake of opening Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story on the second weekend of December ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home, and no one came, resulting in a box office take at $10.5M over 3-days. No studio was willing to risk a wide release this weekend after seeing how that went down.

However, in pre-pandemic times, family films playing ahead of year-end titans have done great on the second weekend of December, i.e. Jumanji: The Next Level, which opened to $59M ahead of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s $177.3M start in December 2019, and 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which opened to $35.3M ahead of Warner Bros/DC’s Aquaman. Solid family titles in the recent pre-Covid era have proved to break through. Currently next year, there are no wide releases booked by the majors on Dec. 1 or Dec. 8. The year-end Christmas movie next year is Warner Bros/DC’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

This weekend, on the smaller side: A moderate expansion of Focus Features’ Michael Showalter- directed Spoiler Alert, based on the Michael Ausiello tome, is looking to crack the top 10 with $700K after a $230K Friday at 783 theaters (+777). Good PostTrak scores with 91% from those who showed up, that being 58% guys, 45% between 18-34,  66% Caucasian, 15% Latino and Hispanic, 2% Black, & 17% Asian/other. Through the pic’s second weekend, it looks to land at $803K.

Despite no noise on the wide side, A24’s Darren Aronofsky-directed Brendan Fraser drama The Whale is headed to the best theater average of 2022, unseating the studio’s Everything Everywhere All at Once ($50K per theater) with $60k, or $360K over three days at six NYC and LA theaters. That provides some hope for prestige Oscar-bait dramas. Though only 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, Fraser has been buzzed to have a lock on Best Actor after the pic’s fall film festival tour. Big numbers, we hear, from the New York’s Lincoln Square, Angelika, Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, and LA’s Burbank, Grove and Century City.

Searchlight’s Empire of Light, directed by Sam Mendes and based on the life of the Oscar- winner’s mother, was panned by critics at 47% Rotten, and isn’t putting up potent numbers I hear. Booked in 110 sites, the movie flickered $67K yesterday for what is shaping up to be a $177,6K opening.

Weekend top 5:

1.) Wakanda Forever Dis 3,725 (-130) theaters, Fri $2.8M (-37%), 3 day $11M (-37%), Total $409.7M/Wk 5

2.) Violent Night Uni 3,723 theaters (+41), Fri $2.4M (-50%) 3-day $8M (-40%), Total $26.4M/Wk 2

3.) Strange World Dis 3,560 (-614) theaters, Fri $787K (-28%) 3-day $3.6M (-29%)Total $30.4M /Wk 3

4.) The Menu Sea 2,710 (-100) theaters Fri $825K (-21%) 3-day $2.8M (-18%) Total $29.1M/Wk 4

5.) Devotion Sony 3,458 theaters (+53) Fri $600K 3-day $1.9M (-28%) Total $16.8M/Wk 3

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