Box office: ‘MISSING’ enters the movie market, as ‘Avatar’ crosses $2 billion worldwide

Just like last January, the first month of 2023 seems to be going the route where very few new movies are having much of an impact while others just continue to make money.

Despite there being a number of new wide and moderate releases, only one of them managed to get into the top five as James Cameron’s epic “Avatar: The Way of Water” remained ahead of the pack with another $19.7 million, down 40% from last weekend, as it comes closer to reaching the $600 million domestic milestone. After that, it’s coming up fast on surpassing Pixar’s “Incredibles 2’s” $608.6 million gross to become the 12th-highest grossing movie domestically.

Cameron’s latest has also become only the sixth movie ever to make $2 billion worldwide, joining Cameron’s two previous films, “Avatar” and “Titanic,” among that miniscule blockbuster subclass. This weekend, the movie added another $56.3 million overseas to bring its worldwide total to $2.02 billion, which means it’s likely that sometime in the next month, “Way of the Water” could become the fourth-highest grossing movie globally, although it does face stronger releases in February.

One of the weekend’s bigger surprises was seeing the animated sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” jumping back into second place with $11.5 million (down just 21% from the holiday weekend), which brought its domestic total to $126.5 million. It added another $17.8 million overseas, bringing it to $171 million internationally and $297.5 million worldwide. With little other competition for family audiences, “The Last Wish” has proven to be quite leggy from its relatively weak pre-Christmas opening.

Universal’s hit horror film “M3GAN” dropped to third place with $9.8 million, down 46% from last weekend, but it also has grossed $73.3 million domestically, which makes it highly profitable for Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster, who made the movie for a reported $12 million. It added another $10.9 million overseas this weekend, bringing its own global total to $124.6 million, and it’s no surprise that a sequel, tentatively called “M3GAN V 2.0” has already been announced.

Sony’s Stage 6 division released “MISSING,” a semi-sequel to the 2018 Sundance hit “SEARCHING,” into 3,020 theaters. After making $760,000 in Thursday previews, the movie opened in fourth place with $9.3 million, with the second-best per-theater average for the weekend. The movie, which starred Nia Long and Storm Reid, received solid reviews with 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and its Audience Score is at 92%, which means it could be another leggy genre release for the month.

Tom Hanks as “A Man Called Otto” dropped to fifth place, bringing in an additional $9 million, down 29% from its first weekend in wide release. It has grossed $35.3 million domestically after a textbook expansion over the past few weekends.

The Gerard ButlerMike Colter action-thriller “Plane” fell 49% to sixth place with $5.3 million, bringing its domestic total to $19.5 million, while New Line’s “House Party” also had a big second weekend drop, taking seventh place with $1.8 million, which was down 55% from its opening with $7.2 million grossed so far.

Crunchyroll released its latest anime feature, “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond,” into 1,473 theaters on Thursday where it brought in $1.46 million for the weekend or about $990 per theater.

A24 ended up opening Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, “When You Finish Saving the World,” into 403 theaters on Friday, where it grossed an estimated $141,000, less than $350 per theater.

Neither Anna Kendrick’s “Alice, Darling” nor Florian Zeller’s “The Son,” starring Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern, reported any estimated box office on Sunday, but we’ll add in those numbers if something is reported on Monday.

Nineteen players in this week’s box office prediction game picked “Puss in Boots” to move up into second place, while 26 had “M3GAN” in third place. Only 27 players picked “MISSING” for fourth place and maybe twice that many guessed “Man Called Otto” correctly to take fifth, so it should be interesting to see who comes out on top for the weekend. 120 players went six-for-six in the January 13 game, but there were no real breakouts in terms of point scores.

We’re looking at another quiet weekend next week with the Brandon Cronenberg horror film “Infinity Pool” likely to be the widest release following its Sundance premiere. Check back on Wednesday for our weekend preview.

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