January came to a close with two movies that have dominated the box office since before Christmas continuing their runs for a final weekend, which also brought in all sorts of new and re-released odds and ends.
The big story of the weekend is that James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” won its seventh weekend in a row at the box office after crossing the $600 million mark earlier in the week. It remained in first place with an estimated $15.7 million this weekend, down just 22%, helped by a lack of stronger new releases, bringing its domestic total to $620.6 million. This weekend, it surpassed the North American grosses for Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Last Jedi,” as it slowly inches closer to the $623.3 million made by “Marvel’s the Avengers” in 2012, which would make it the 10th highest-grossing movie of all time, domestically.
Overseas, “The Way of Water” added $42.4 million, becoming the fourth-highest grossing film worldwide with $2.11 billion. It’s also officially the highest-grossing film EVER in many international territories, including France and Austria. As of now, Cameron has directed three of the four all-time global grossers, the others being “Avatar” and “Titanic” (which is getting a 25th anniversary re-release in a couple weeks).
SEE 2022 box office hits: Every movie that made more than $100 million
The animated sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” continues to hold up well with a second weekend in second place, adding an estimated $10.6 million (down 15%) to its domestic total of $140.8 million. It’s very close to matching or surpassing the $149.3 million made domestically by the original “Puss in Boots” in 2011. It added another $14.3 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $334.1 million.
The Tom Hanks dramedy “A Man Called Otto” also continues to bring in audiences, as it moved up to third place with $6.8 million, also down a minuscule 22% to bring its domestic total to $46.1 million.
Universal’s horror film “M3GAN” dropped to fourth place with $6.4 million, down 34% from last weekend, as it brought its month-long total to $82.3 million, making it one of the year’s first bonafide hits.
Another big winner for the weekend was the Bollywood action film “Pathaan,” released by Yash Raj Films into 694 theaters on Wednesday. After making $2.6 million on Wednesday and Thursday, it added just under $6 million over the weekend for a five-day opening of $8.6 million. That isn’t quite up to “RRR’s” $9.5 million opening last year, but it’s still a feather in the cap for the Bollywood distributor who has now achieved its biggest domestic hit, surpassing “Dhoom 3,” which made $8 million 10 years ago.
SEE Grab the popcorn and sound off in our movie forums
The thriller “MISSING” dropped to sixth place with $5.7 million, down 38% in its second weekend, and $17.6 million total. It’s doing slightly better than its predecessor, “SEARCHING,” which had made $14.3 million after its second weekend of wide release.
Lionsgate’s action-thriller “Plane,” starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter, took seventh place with $3.8 million (down 28%), bringing its running total to $25.4 million.
Another international feature, which took full advantage of the Lunar New Year, was Well Go USA‘s release of the Chinese epic, “The Wandering Earth II,” which was released into just 142 theaters and grossed $3 million over the weekend to take eighth place. (To be fair, $1.6 million of its weekend gross came from “special screenings” on Thursday.)
The other major new wide release was Brandon Cronenberg’s horror-thriller “Infinity Pool,” starring Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth, which NEON opened in 1,835 theaters on Friday. Positive reviews at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes following its Sundance premiere last weekend were counter-balanced by a much lower Audience Score, and a horrendous “C-” CinemaScore, so its lesser opening of just $2.7 million ($1,488 per theater) was not unexpected.
The faith-based film “Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist,” directed by Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo, also opened in 1,393 theaters on Thursday. After making $610,000 in its first day, it added another $2.4 million over the weekend for tenth place, ending up with just under $3 million in four days.
That was followed just outside the top ten with a horse race between Deon Taylor’s self-released horror film “Fear,” which grossed $1.3 million in 974 theaters ($1,335 per location), and the one-night live concert event “Billy Eilish at the O2,” which brought in $1.3 million just on Friday.
U.A. Releasing finally expanded Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” nationwide into 707 theaters, where it made just over a million. It essentially made the same amount this weekend as A24’s “The Whale” in 1,792 theaters and A24’s re-release of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” into 1,400 theaters, but all three of them will wind up outside the Top 10.
Searchlight also re-released Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-nominated “Banshees of Inisherin” into 1,205 theaters on Friday. Since it had been streaming on HBO Max for the last month, it only made $353,000 in this effort. Todd Field’s own Oscar nominee, “TÁR,” made $173,000 in 537 locations this weekend for a running total of $6.2 million.
Another recent Oscar nominee, the Belgian film “Close” (also A24), opened in New York and L.A. on Friday and made $68,000 or $17,000 per theater.
Only three players went 6 for 6 in Gold Derby’s January 20 box office game with “Rich27” getting the most points. Although “cwright55” only got 4 out of 5 correctly, they played their Super Bet right to end up with 56,509 points by placing it on guessing “Puss in Boots” would jump back up to second place.
On Friday, M. Night Shyamalan’s new thriller “Knock at the Cabin” takes on the Paramount comedy “80 for Brady,” starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field and Rita Moreno, so check back on Wednesday for the weekend preview.
SIGN UP for Gold Derby’s free newsletter with latest predictions