‘Avatar 2’ Juggernaut Shows No Sign of Slowing Entering Sixth Box Office Weekend

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ sequel Avatar: The Way of Water on Jan. 17 surpassed Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home as the No. 6 all-time top grossing movie with more than $1.92 billion in ticket sales.

Entering its sixth weekend at the box office, James Cameron’s follow-up to his 2009 original Avatar — the all-time top-grossing movie with more than $2.9 billion in revenue has added another $100 million in revenue as it enters the Jan. 22 weekend with a chance to narrow the gap with the No. 5 and No. 4 grossing global theatrical releases: Avengers: Infinity War ($2.05 billion) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion).

The Way of Water is reportedly projected to sell more than $20 million worth of tickets, easily topping box office returnees M3GAN with $10.6 million, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish at $10 million (both Universal Pictures), Sony Pictures’ Tom Hanks-starrer A Man Called Otto ($9 million) and Lionsgate’s Gerard Butler-actioner Plane with $5.6 million.

The lone new weekend release is Sony/Screen Gems’ drama Missing, about a daughter’s (Storm Reid) high-tech attempts to find her missing mother (Nia Long) on vacation in Columbia with her new boyfriend (Ken Leung). The movie generated $760,000 in special Thursday (Jan. 19) sneak preview screenings.

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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Eyes Fourth Consecutive Weekend Box Office Win

Disney/Marvel Studios’ latest superhero movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is expected to top the weekend box office for the fourth consecutive time the weekend of Dec. 2-4. The sequel to the 2018 box office hit Black Panther is approaching $700 million in global ticket sales, including $400 million in North America.

The lone new release is Universal Pictures’ holiday action-comedy, Violent Night — in which a group of mercenary home invaders, crashing a wealthy Christmas party and taking hostages, get a surprise visit from Santa (played by “Strange Things” actor David Harbour). It is reportedly projected to generate upwards of $10 million in ticket sales.

Returning releases include Disney’s animated Strange World ($5.9 million), Sony/Columbia Pictures’ Devotion ($3.1 million), Disney/Searchlight Pictures’ The Menu ($3 million), Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics’ Black Adam ($1.8 million) and Universal’s The Fabelmans ($1.4 million).

With scant new releases, Paramount Pictures is re-releasing the year’s biggest theatrical title, Top Gun: Maverick, across 2,000 screens, including Imax and other premium formats. The re-release is projected to add another $1 million in revenue to the movie’s $716.6 million domestic tally.

Paramount Pictures All ‘Smile'[s] With $22 Million Weekend Box Office Debut

Paramount Pictures’ horror thriller Smile didn’t disappoint, generating an estimated $22 million in revenue across more than 3,600 screens. The movie opened with Thursday previews grossing $2 million, followed by strong ticket sales throughout most of the country except for the Northeast and Hurricane-ravaged Florida, according to Paramount.

The movie has a chance of matching the weekend opening for Universal Pictures’ summer horror release The Black Phone, which generated $23.6 million in its debut.

Smile stars Sosie Bacon as a therapist who appears to lose her mind after she witnesses the strange suicide of one of her patients. Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn and Rob Morgan also appear in the film, which was written and directed by Parker Finn.

Major U.S. markets where Smile over-indexed included Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Md., while major markets that under-indexed included Seattle, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Tampa Bay, Fla., and Minneapolis.

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Florida as a whole was down 1% from its year-to-date average market largely due to the impact of Hurricane Ian. Paramount said premium large format (PLF) screens generated 23% of the movie’s box office. Fourteen out of the top 25 theaters came from Los Angeles, six from New York, with the remainder from Phoenix, Sacramento, Calif., West Palm Beach, Fla., Montreal and San Diego.

The Smile audience skewed 52% male/48% female, 68% 18-34 years old.
About 36% of moviegoers rated the movie “Excellent,” with 33% rating it “Very Good.” More than 5o% of moviegoers gave the movie a “definite recommend,” while 27% of audience said it exceeded expectations.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ gay-themed romantic comedy Bros fell below expectations, generating just $4.8 million across 3,400 screens. Top performing markets included New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sony/TriStar Pictures’ The Woman King, staring Oscar winner Viola Davis, rounded out the podium with $7 million in ticket sales, bringing the film’s North American box office total past $46 million, $50 million worldwide. Sony’s Bullet Train added an estimated $1.6 million to bring its domestic tally past $101 million, $235 million globally.

Disney/20th Century’s re-release of 2009’s Avatar generated another $4.7 million in ticket sales to push the world’s No. 1 grossing movie’s total to $2.9 billion. The re-release, which is meant to generate moviegoer interest for the Dec. 16 debut of long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, has seen more than $18 million in limited engagement domestic ticket sales, $58 million globally.

Can Marvel Studios’ ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Jumpstart the Summer Box Office Early?

Following several weeks of a box office lull, exhibitors get the chance to realize a summer blockbuster early with the debut of Disney/Marvel Studios’ latest superhero movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, featuring Bennedict Cumberbatch in the title role.

With strong brand appeal with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and 79% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie could tally as much as $200 million in its opening weekend box office. The last May theatrical release to top the mark was Marvel’s The Avengers, which generated an all-time opening weekend box office of $207.4 million in 2012.

Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange character also saw significant supporting roles in recent box office hits Spider-Man: No Way HomeAvengers: Endgame, and Avengers: Infinity War.

The movie is off to a strong start, generating a whopping $36 million in Thursday night screenings.

Director Sam Raimi also has a track record for over-performing opening weekend ticket sales. In 2002, he became the first director to see a movie (Spider-Man) top $100 million in its weekend debut. Raimi topped that in 2007 with a $150 million opening weekend for Spider-Man 3.

On the heels of the newest superhero flick are recent weekend box office hits The Bad Guys (Universal Pictures), which is projected to generate another $9.9 million in ticket sales; and Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with $6.6 million. Other holdovers include Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Warner Bros.) with $3.4 million in projected ticket sales, and A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once with $3.1 million.

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No Time to Worry: James Bond Is Returning to the Box Office

With more than $121 million in international ticket sales entering the Columbus Day weekend, MGM/United Artists Releasing’s domestic debut of the 25th James Bond movie, No Time to Die, is projected to be a runaway winner at the box office through Oct. 10-11.

The movie, which has seen its release delayed four times due to the pandemic, has more than the usual buzz surrounding a Bond movie. In addition to a Grammy-winning theme song from Billie Eilish, and a 4,400-screen launch, No Time represents actor Daniel Craig’s fifth and final turn as Agent 007, a role he singularly rebooted into his own (including blond hair) — with smashing success.

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Craig’s previous Bond roles in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre generated a collective $3.2 billion in global ticket sales.

Interestingly, Craig’s No Time co-star, Ana de Armas, stole the show (and award nominations) in Craig’s biggest non-Bond movie, Knives Out, which generated more than $311 million at the box office.

Assisting Bond over Columbus Day is the reality that big tentpole movies are again resonating with COVID-leery moviegoers. Following the September domination of Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Sony Pictures sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage, shattered expectations with a $90 million box office debut Oct. 1-3.

In addition, online ticket platform Fandango reportedly has pre-sold more tickets for No Time than Let There Be Carnage and Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga. With the hype, industry scuttlebutt suggests No Time could become the first Bond movie to crack $100 million in its opening weekend. Skyfall remains the biggest Bond opener with $88.4 million through Nov. 9-11, 2012.

Meanwhile, Let There Be Carnage is projected to generate upwards of $28 million in its second weekend at theaters, with MGM/United Artists Releasing’s The Addams Family 2 selling another $10 million in domestic tickets.

‘Shang-Chi’ Eyes Final Box Office ‘Ring’

The Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe release Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks set to win at its fourth consecutive domestic weekend box office appearance — a probable achievement not seen by a Marvel title since Black Panther in 2018.

The final U.S. box office weekend of September — reportedly projected to generate less than $40 million — concludes a quiet month ahead of the Oct. 1 release of Sony Pictures’ first major theatrical bow in the pandemic, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the sequel to 2018’s Venom, which generated more than $850 million at the global box. Let There Be Carnage again stars Tom Hardy as superhero Venom and his alter ego, Eddie Brock. In the film, Brock tries to reignite his career as a journalist by interviewing a vicious serial killer, Cletus Kasady, played by Woody Harrelson, who becomes the host of Carnage, the alien spawn of Venom.

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Shang-Chi’s primary new release competition through Sept. 26 is Universal Pictures’ young adult release Dear Evan Hansen — a movie adaptation of the 2016 Broadway musical of the same name that won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Actor Ben Platt reprises his Broadway role as a high school senior with social anxiety disorder who gets caught up in a fellow classmate’s suicide. Cast headliners include Julianne Moore and Amy Adams. The movie is projected to generate less than $10 million in ticket sales (Sept. 24-26) compared with Shang-Chi’s $13.8 million. The film stirred up controversy in the weeks leading up to its release for, among other things, having a 27-year-old Ben Platt portray a high schooler.

The weekend’s other theatrical newcomer is Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures’ The Eyes of Tammy Faye, starring Jessica Chastain.

Theatrical returnees include the 20th Century Studios action comedy Free Guy; the Universal Pictures horror sequel Candyman; Warner Bros. Pictures’ Cry Macho, directed and starring 91-year-old Clint Eastwood; Disney’s Jungle Cruise; Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie; and Open Road Film’s Copshop.

All, except Copshop, are available digitally, with Cry Macho and Malignant streaming free to HBO Max subscribers.

‘Shang-Chi’ Looking for Third Weekend Box Office ‘Ring’

Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has dominated the weekly box office slugfest its first two theatrical weekends, rejuvenating exhibitor confidence and quieting Wall Street naysayers despite a still-surging Delta variant.

That trend is likely to continue through Sept. 19 as Shang-Chi again is projected to best the competition at least until the Oct. 1 debut of Sony Pictures’  Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Unlike other Marvel releases that have seen ticket sales fall significantly after their opening box office weekend, Shang-Chi continues to resonate with moviegoers.

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In addition to setting an all-time Labor Day box office record with $75.4 million over three days ($94.6 million over four days), Shang-Chi holds the best second-weekend revenue tally ($34.5 million) of any movie released during the pandemic. Topping Paramount Pictures sequel A Quiet Place Part II’s third-weekend tally of $12 million is well within its grasp.

Shang-Chi‘s primary original contenders include Warner Bros. Pictures’ Cry Macho, starring and directed by 91-year-old Clint Eastwood; and Open Road Film’s Gerald Butler actioner Copshop. Eastwood scored at hit ($17.5 million) in his last movie playing a senior citizen drug courier in The Mule. But social media buzz surrounding Macho is suggesting an opening box office tally more in line with 2019 release Richard Jewell ($4.7 million).

More importantly, Macho is streaming concurrently for free on HBO Max, a hybrid release strategy many observers feel torpedoed Warner’s previous box office release, Malignant, and is projected to generate less than $10 million domestically after two weekends.

Among returning movies, 20th Century Studios’ action comedy Free Guy and Universal Pictures sequel Candyman look to sustain strong box office runs with $4.3 million and $3.3 million in projected domestic ticket sales.

‘Candyman’ Looking to Supplant ‘Free Guy’ Atop Weekend Box Office

With positive reviews, strong social media buzz and a star producer, Universal Pictures’ horror sequel Candyman is looking to knock off Disney/20th Century Studios’ Free Guy from atop the domestic weekend box office through Aug. 29.

The “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 original Candyman, the new movie’s trailer on social media platforms (i.e. YouTube) has reportedly generated more than 60 million views. With a largely black ensemble cast and female director (Nia DaCosta, who is helming Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels), the movie’s marketing ace in the hole is producer Jordan Peele, whose resumé includes box office and critical hits Get Out and Us, among others.

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The title joins a heavy horror-themed 2021 release slate that includes movies such as Lionsgate’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw; The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros.); The Forever Purge and Old (both Universal); and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony Pictures, Screen Gems).

Also impacting Candyman’s box office (reportedly to range from $16 million to $26 million), as well as other theatrical titles, is the ongoing pandemic, increasing Delta variant infections, and the fact Universal will release the movie in homes on premium VOD after 17 days if the first-week box office falls below $50 million.

Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds’ boyish charm continues to propel action comedy Free Guy, which has generated more than $117 million at the worldwide box office, including $64 million domestically. The movie has topped the domestic box office since its Aug. 11 release.

Other box office returners include Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie; Disney’s The Jungle Cruise; MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect; Warner’s The Suicide Squad; Lionsgate’s The Protégé; opening weekend disappointment Reminiscence (Warner); and The Night House (Searchlight Pictures).

‘Free Guy’ Reigns Supreme Again at Weekend Box Office

Disney/20th Century Studio’s action comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, held off cute animated puppies and Hugh Jackman at the domestic box office, generating an estimated $18.8 million in revenue across more than 4,000 North American screens through Aug. 22. The tally is about 34% less than the movie’s previous weekend opening of $28.4 million. To date, the movie has generated more than $63 million in the U.S., and $112 million worldwide.

The resilient showing masked a weak overall box office that saw less than $60 million in ticket sales — the lowest weekend tally since June 20.

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In the second spot, with almost $13 million in revenue across 3,100 screens ($34.5 million globally), was Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie, an impressive debut considering the target audience is under the age of 12. The animated feature crushed Warner Bros. Pictures’ Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman, with just $2 million in reported revenue across 3,200 screens. The movie, along with Warner’s entire 2021 theatrical slate, is streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers for the first 31 days of release.

How bad did it get for Warner? Reminiscence revenue finished behind a pack of repeat showings, including Disney’s Jungle Cruise with $6.2 million ($92.5 million worldwide); Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2 with $5 million ($19.6 million); MGM’s Respect ($3.8 million, $15.1 million); The Suicide Squad ($3.4 million, $49.2 million); Lionsgate new release The Protege ($2.9 million) and Searchlight Pictures’ opening weekend bow of The Night House at $2.8 million.

Weekend Box Office: Can ‘Free Guy’ Hold Off ‘Paw Patrol’?

NEWS ANALYSIS — Disney’s 20th Century Studios release Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who discovers he’s a character in a video game, dominated last weekend’s domestic box office, generating more than $28 million in its theatrical debut ($60 million globally).

With a high approval score on social media and among movie critics, Free Guy would appear a lock to again top weekend ticket sales through Aug. 22, especially since Disney is not concurrently offering the movie on Premier Access as it did for Jungle Cruise and Black Widow. The movie is projected to generate more than $15 million at U.S. screens.

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But Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie aims to change that trajectory. The adventure comedy is the biggest animated theatrical release since Universal Pictures’ The Boss Baby: Family Business on July 1, which generated $16 million its opening weekend, and Warner Bros. Pictures’ animation/live-action hybrid Space Jam: A New Legacy, which scored $31 million in its opening July 18 weekend.

In addition to strong social media approval, Paw Patrol is a venerable brand for Nickelodeon through ongoing TV series and consumer products. The movie is projected to generate $14 million in domestic ticket sales.

In a recent National CineMedia and Screenvision Media consumer survey through Aug. 2, 79% of respondents were not overly concerned about the new Delta variant. Another 87% said they have seen a movie in the theater this year and plan to go to the movie theater between now and the end of this year.

The survey also found that moviegoers are outpacing the general population for being fully vaccinated (82% vs. 61% national average at the time of the survey).

Other new releases include Warner’s Reminiscence, which is also streaming for free on HBO Max; Searchlight Pictures’ horror film The Night House; and Lionsgate’s The Protégé.

Returning titles include Jungle Cruise, MGM/United Artists’ Aretha Franklin biopic Respect; Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2; Warner’s The Suicide Squad, and Universal Pictures’ Old.