Christmas box office: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ wins a second weekend with ease, passing $880 million globally

The Christmas weekend did not bring many presents for movie studios or theater chains, as three new wide releases failed to find much of an audience, while James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” dominated with $64 million over the three-day weekend to take first place. That’s down 53% from its opening weekend, but it’s estimated to make another $26 million on Monday, which would bring its domestic total to $287.7 million. On top of that, Cameron’s sequel has grossed more than $880 million globally, making it the fifth highest-grossing movie of 2022 after just ten days of release, with $601.7 million of that amount made overseas through Sunday. $97.2 million of that global total comes from the IMAX theaters in which the movie played.

Offered as counter-programming was the DreamWorks Animation sequel, “Puss in Boots: The Big Wish,” featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, John Mulaney, Florence Pugh, and many more. The movie opened on Wednesday in 4,099 theaters, and after making $6.1 million on Wednesday and Thursday, it added $3.8 million on Friday, leading to a first weekend of $12.4 million. It’s projected to make $20 million for the four-day including Monday, which would add up to $26.1 million in its first six days. That really isn’t great when you compare it to last year’s animated sequel “Sing 2,” which grossed $37.9 million in its first five days after opening on the Wednesday before Christmas last year. Oddly, “Puss in Boots” had much better reviews than most of the other releases in theaters, racking up 95% on Rotten Tomatoes with a respectable “A” CinemaScore.

Sony opened the biopic “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” starring Naomi Ackie, in 3,625 theaters on Friday with Thursday previews starting at 2pm, that amounted to a paltry $730,000. With $2 million grossed on Friday, it ended up with just $4.8 million in its first three days. It’s projected to make $6.8 million including Monday, which is well below even the most conservative projections, although it also received an “A” CinemaScore, so the fans that did go see the movie must have enjoyed it.

Damien Chazelle’s fifth feature, “Babylon,” starring Diego Calva (“Narcos: Mexico”), Margot Robbie, and Brad Pitt, opened with $3.6 million in its opening three-day weekend after making  $1.5 million on Friday. With Monday, the Paramount release has only grossed $5.3 million, which amounts to a paltry $1,585 per theater. It also received a terrible “C+” CinemaScore, which basically says that moviegoers were not particularly enamored with the movie which received mixed-to-negative reviews, as well.

Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Universal’s “Violent Night” were neck-and-neck for fifth place, with the former making $3.5 million over the three-day weekend (down 35% from last weekend) and “Violent Night” making $3.53 million over the three-day weekend (down 30%) with another $1.4 million on Monday. “Wakanda Forever” is currently at $427.9 million, while the David Harbour action-comedy has grossed a decent $43.3 million. “Wakanda Forever” is just below $800 million globally, so it’s already fallen behind “Avatar,” despite the latter being in theaters for less than two weeks.

Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” expanded into 603 theaters on Wednesday where it ended up with a paltry $1 million for the three-day weekend, enough for seventh place, and a projected $2.6 million grossed through Sunday. 

Universal keeps trying to make Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” happen, expanding it into 1,122 theaters on Wednesday. It ended up with $750,000 over the three-day weekend and $1.1 million including Monday. It has grossed $10.3 million domestically through Monday.

“The Menu” took ninth place with $680,000 for the three-day weekend, down 58% from last weekend with an estimated $34.2 million grossed through Monday.

U.A. Releasing finally released Sarah Polley’s drama “Women Talking” into 8 theaters in major cities (New York, L.A., Chicago, Toronto, and Austin) where it grossed just $41,000 or about $8,000 average per theater. That isn’t a great start, although the Oscar contender will expand nationwide on January 6.

Also opening in two theaters in New York City was IFC Films’ “Corsage,” Austria’s Oscar selection starring Vicky Krieps, which took in an estimated $36,000 over the four-day weekend. It expands to L.A. on December 30 and more cities on January 6.

Although this week’s box office prediction game was only for the three-day portion of the weekend, most players realized “Avatar” would be the number-one movie again, although almost four times as many players had it making $75 to 100 million vs. the 39 players who correctly picked $50 to 75 million. Most players had the next four placements right, although fifth place may still be a photo finish between “Wakanda Forever” and “Violent Night.” (“Violent Night” is ahead for the three-day based on estimates, which would have 55 players predicting that correctly.)

Only 10 players went 6 for 6 in last week’s game, but the biggest pointmaker was… well, actually, it was me with 60,550 points. I did that by predicting “Avatar” would make between $125 and 150 million, and making that my Big Bet when it was listed with 100-to-1 odds. As I’ve said a few times now, if you place your Super Bet on a prediction with the largest odds and that comes through, then it will help to boost your point value. 

There are no new wide releases next weekend – just a few limited releases including Tom Hanks’s “A Man Called Otto,” and the new movie “Broker” from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda – so we’re skipping this week’s preview, though we will have a preview of the movies coming out in January sometime later this week.</span

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

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