Weekend Box Office: ‘Avatar 2’ Takes on ‘M3GAN,’ Lifelike Doll With Issues

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ theatrical juggernaut Avatar: The Way of Water shows little sign of diminishing appeal among moviegoers, having topped $1.5 billion in global revenue this week. The sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 original Avatar is a lock to finish atop another weekend box office — with a reported $36 million in projected ticket sales to see the virtual world of Pandora through Jan. 8.

An interesting sidebar is the under-the-radar moviegoer interest in Universal Pictures/Blumhouse’s latest smaller-budget comedy horror film M3GAN, about a murderous American Girl-type doll gone bad. Very bad. The movie quietly generated more than $2.7 million in Jan. 5 sneak previews, and is projected to sell $24 million worth of tickets over the weekend. Starring Allison Williams (Get Out!) as the aunt to a 9-year-old girl who lost her parents in a car crash, Williams is also a toy engineer by day, eager to share her Model 3 generative android doll with her grieving niece.

Let the bonding begin.

Meanwhile, box office returnees include Universal Pictures’ Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ($8 million), Disney’s soon-to-stream Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ($2.8 million), the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody ($2.4 million), and Sony Pictures’ Tom Hanks old-timer flick A Man Called Otto ($2 million).

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