MONDAY AM: Despite some parts of the country being under 43 inches of snow, and some communities even having driving bans, Christmas delivered more money to Disney/20th Century Studio’s Avatar: The Way of Water than anticipated. Instead of hitting the studio’s anticipated $21.5M yesterday, the James Cameron directed sequel delivered $29.5M sending the pic’s 3-day to $64M, -52%, with Disney raising its 4-day outlook to $90M. That Christmas Day take is the 4th best ever for a movie behind The Force Awakens ($49.3M), Rise of Skywalker ($32.1M) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($31.6M) and ahead of The Last Jedi ($27.4M) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($25.8M), the latter being the comp used against Avatar 2.
Rivals believe Avatar 2‘s second 4-day weekend can get to $97M-$100M with most off from work today and all schools and colleges on break. Disney says $26M today, Others believes it’s $33M to $36M. We will see. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story posted a 4-day second weekend of $96.1M.
Disney’s projection for the 11-day domestic total of Avatar 2 is $287.68M, which is 9.5% behind Rogue One over the same point in time, and 24% ahead of Avatar‘s first 11 days which amounted to $232.1M. Through the end of New Year’s weekend 2010, the first Avatar‘s US/Canada gross stood at $352.1M. Can Avatar: The Way of Water make it to $400M by the New Year?
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish also beat its estimates with $12.4M 3-day, and a now $20M 4-day for a $26.9M 6-day.
While moviegoers will sacrifice heading out into the cold for those two movies, few continue to make time for Tri-Star/Compelling Pictures/Black Label’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody which did $1.9M yesterday, for a 3-day of $4.7M –lower than it’s recently anticipated $5.3M– and a 4-day of $6.8M. Sony thought this $45M production, which is a service deal, could get to $12M.
Meanwhile Christmas delivered no miracles for Babylon which did $1.54M yesterday, a $3.6M 3-day and still projected $5.3M 4-day. The movie will open in 58 offshore markets beginning in mid-January including France (Jan. 18), Germany (Jan. 19), Brazil (Jan. 19), Mexico (Jan. 19), Australia (Jan. 19), UK (Jan. 23), Korea (Feb. 2) and Japan (Feb. 10)
Both pic’s 3-days are less than Cats, which tanked in the last pre-pandemic Christmas with a $6.6M opening off a $90M production which resulted in a loss well north of $71M. They’re also below the 2-day starts last year of King’s Man ($5.9M) and American Underdog ($5.8M). That said, Babylon and I Wanna Dance With Somebody were ahead of the 3-day results of last holiday season starts Nightmare Alley ($2.8M opening, $11.3M domestic final) and A Journal for Jordan ($2.5M Sat-Mon, $6.5M final).
SUNDAY AM: We’re hearing that some of those nearly 80 theaters that were closed are trying to get open today for what typically is the first of many lucrative moviegoing days as holiday distractions ease. That’s been complicated this year by Winter Storm Elliott in the Midwest, power outages and a deep wind chill that’s keeping many at home.
As far as where the box office stands now, as one distribution source observes, “These numbers are still very fluid.” Studios and exhibitors are hopeful for a bounce in business as the wicked winter weather calms.
Disney is sticking to its estimates on Avatar: The Way of Water, calling a $56M 3-day and $82M 4-day. Rivals believe that a great day is in store and that it could go to about $63M for the 3-day and $95M for 4-day, but that won’t be apparent until later today. Universal also largely is sticking to its 3-day and 4-day of $11.3M and $17.8M on Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Nobody wants to get over their skis in trying to over-project a lackluster marketplace. Best to underestimate and overdeliver. Worldwide, Puss in Boots 2 is at $50.8M.
Said Universal Domestic Distribution Boss Jim Orr: “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish is the perfect movie to see this holiday season. This smart, sweet and funny film from DreamWorks Animation proves some franchises, and cats, only get better with age. Audiences across North America are obviously loving this next adventure, and we couldn’t be more proud.” Despite the pic coming in under Sing 2‘s 5-day of $39.6M, the confidence is that the DreamWorks sequel will be the definite second choice behind the Avatar sequel in the next few weeks.
Getting hurt the most under these circumstances are the new adult-targeted pics I Wanna Dance with Somebody and Babylon, which still are close to their single-digit projections. Even under the best of market conditions, Damien Chazelle’s opulent-priced $80M Hollywood period movie still would have suffered off its bad reviews and audiences scores, but we’ll have to see where overseas comes in as well as the next few hopefully normal days at the box office before we assess the damage. We stand corrected: C2 came in on as the co-financier on Babylon. Still, despite this shortfall for the Melrose Lot, the $1.48 billion global bounty from the studio’s Top Gun: Maverick alone will hopefully cover up any red ink here. At $3.5M 3-day and $5.3M 4-day, the Margot Robbie-Brad Pitt movie tanked, but so did TriStar’s Whitney Houston biopic. I Wanna Dance with Somebody didn’t even touch its $12M 4-day projection with an estimated $5.3M 3-day and $7.5M-$9M. But because it’s a distribution deal for Sony, there’s less damage for the studio.
The spoils for Avatar 2 right now remain worldwide, meaning abroad, where it stands at $855M WW through EOD today (broken out $254M and $601M abroad). The James Cameron-directed sequel is the 5th-highest-grossing global release of the 2022 to date and the 6th-highest worldwide for a Hollywood movie in the pandemic era. North American Imax auditoriums made $9.5M, repping 17% of second-weekend ticket sales and taking the large format exhibitor’s U.S./Canada haul to $34.3M.
“Avatar: The Way of Water is showing the strong endurance at the global box office we expected, particularly with its phenomenal performance internationally where several key markets grew their grosses over opening weekend,” Imax CEO Rich Gelfond beamed in a statement. “In just over a week of release, Avatar: The Way of Water is already sailing toward $100 million in Imax box office with no signs of slowing down, as our screens remain the destination of choice to experience this one-of-a-kind film.”
The Christmas box office look to make $39.3M for all titles, 77% from Christmas Eve’s downer $22.2M (which was off 26% from Friday). Christmas Day looks to be off 32% from the holiday a year ago, when Spider-Man: No Way Home was on the marquee, Omicron raged and there were better weather conditions. Since 2003, per ComScore, this is the second-lowest Christmas ever, the bottom being 2020, when NYC and LA theaters and a majority of the nation’s cinemas were shuttered and the day’s entire business did just over $10M.
The 3-day box office per ComScore is $85.9M, -44% from a year ago when Christmas fell on a Saturday. The YTD box office is $7.3 billion, +68% over the same period a year ago.
1) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis/20th) 4,202 theaters, Fri $19.5M (-63%), Sat $15M, Sun $21.5M, Mon $26M, 3-day $56M (-58%)/4-day $82M/Total: $279.7M/ Wk 2
2) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Uni) 4,099 theaters, Fri $3.8M, Sat $2.8M, Sun $4.7M Mon $6.4M 3-day $11.35M, 4-day $17.77M/Total $24.6M/Wk 1
3) I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Sony) 3,625 theaters, Fri $2M Sat $825K Sun $2.47M Mon $2.2M-$3.7M 3-day $5.3M 4-day $7.5M-$9M/Wk 1
4) Babylon (Par) 3,343 theaters Fri $1.47M Sat $590K Sun $1.44M Mon $1.88M 3-day $3.5M 4-day $5.3M/Wk 1
5) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Dis) 2,250 (-1130) theaters, Fri $1M (-30%) Sat $800K Sun $1.2M Mon $1.67M 3 day $3M (-43%)/4-day $4.7M/Total $427.3M/Wk 7
6) Violent Night (Uni) 2,562 (-966) Fri $960K (-33%) Sat $780K Sun $1.4M Mon $1.06M 3-day $3.1M (-38%) 4-day $4.2M Total $42.6M/Wk 4
7) The Whale (A24) 603 (+597) theaters, Fri $300K (+512%), Sat $208K Sun $413K Mon $393K 3-day $924K (+539%) 4-day $1.3M Total $2.85M/Wk 38)
8)The Menu (Sea) 840 (-1035 theaters), Fri $175K (-65%) Sat $145K Sun $297K Mon $283K 3-day $617K (-41%) 4-Day $900K Total $34M/Wk 6
9) Fabelmans (Uni/Amb) 1,122 (+167) theaters, Fri $130K (-43%), Sat $160K Sun $260K Mon $330K 3 day $550K (-26%), 4-day $880K Total $10M/Wk 7
10) Strange World (Dis) 1,390 (-1,480) theaters, Fri $145K (-72%) Sat $110K Sun $155K Mon $265K 3-day $410K (-81%) 4-day $675K Total $35.8M/Wk 5
SATURDAY AM: When it’s this cold, nobody wants to leave the house to go to the movies.
CNN reports that 100 million people in the U.S. are under wind-chill alerts in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Nashville, Atlanta and Charlotte, with those out of power reaching 1.7 million Saturday morning, the majority in the Southeast (709,000), New England (385,000), South (383,000) and Mid-Atlantic (228,000). One of the results here from Storm Elliott? Coastal flooding in Freeport, Long Island.
Some believe the tripledemic is preventing people from going to the movies. Maybe, but that’s hard to believe when we had Omicron last Christmas and Spider-Man: No Way Home’s business was Teflon to that. Blame the freezing weather and Christmas on a Sunday, that holiday the swing factor as to whether grosses grow.
How bad is the weather? Sporting events are even getting canceled. The NHL postponed two games originally scheduled for yesterday: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center in Buffalo and Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Nashville mayor John Cooper called on NFL’s Tennessee Titans to postpone their game against Houston Texans today due to rolling blackouts in the city. It’s one of 11 NFL games today keeping guy moviegoers at home, and not outside in the cold, heading to the multiplex.
Total weekend box office over three days for all titles is estimated to come in at an estimated $85.5M, -53% from 2016 the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday, and 41% down from a year ago when Spider-Man: No Way Home was in its second weekend.
20th Century Studios/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water isn’t that far from where we saw it yesterday afternoon, with Friday coming in at $19.5M, -63%, for a three-day total of $55M and $82M for the four-day frame. On a three-day basis, it’s playing like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, both -59% in their second weekends. No Way Home was down 68% in Weekend 2 with $84.5M — that’s when Christmas fell on a Saturday.
Before we declare no one was ever interested en masse in seeing Avatar 2, box office sources believe the industry should wade through the holidays, this weather, and the next few weeks when schools are off.
Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots: The Last Wish saw $3.8M Friday for a three-day of $11.1M, four-day of $17.4M and six-day of $24.3M. Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits gave the sequel 89% to go along with that A CinemaScore from Wednesday. Kids under 12 gave it 90%. A 50/50 demo split with 40% under 17 years old showed up. Diversity demos were 47% Caucasian, 31% Latino and Hispanic, 10% Black and 12% Asian/other. Those U.S. areas doing business were West, Southwest and Midwest which is where the pic’s top nine theaters were.
This weekend the film opened in an additional 28 markets including China, Mexico, Spain and Germany and is set to make $32M abroad through Sunday, bringing Puss In Boots: The Last Wish‘s global cume (with domestic grosses through Monday) to $57.1M. Excluding China, the international openings are estimated to be in line with Sing 2, above Ferdinand and just slightly below the first Sing.
Social media reach for Puss in Boots 2 was primo according to RelishMix, with a reach across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter of 358M, in line with the social media universes of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (345M), Lightyear (371M) and Lego Movie 2 (335M). A dedicated Puss In Boots TikTok channel was launched this August, now with 602K fans and clocking an extraordinary 101.8M views. It’s “a crystal clear target of where Puss In Boots fans live online, for fun, in 2022,” says the social media analytics org.
Sony/Compelling Pictures/Black Label’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody had a $2M Friday, for a three-day of $5.3M-$5.5M and four-day of $8M-$10M. PostTrak audiences, the few who showed up, gave it 4 1/2 stars, 88% positive and 68% definite recommend, while CinemaScore was an A. Women bought tickets at 68%, 90% over 25, 69% over 35 and 45% over 45. Diversity demos were 38% Black, 38% Caucasian, 18% Latino and Hispanic and 6% Asian/other. Northeast and South were the best regions for the Whitney Houston biopic where eight of the top 10 runs came from.
The movie was made with the blessing of the Houston estate, as opposed to the 2015 Lifetime biopic directed by Angela Bassett. Whitney. I Wanna Dance With Somebody was produced by Houston’s sister-in-law and former manager Pat Houston on behalf of the estate and the singer’s former mentor, Grammy-winning music titan Clive Davis (played by Stanley Tucci in the film).
Paramount’s Babylon had a $1.47M Friday, which is translating into a $3.34M three-day and four-day of $5M. The Hollywood period pic, with a running time of 3 hours, 8 minutes, received a C+ from audiences who bought tickets. Not shocking for a movie with a first half hour that includes an elephant pooping on someone, and a Fatty Arbuckle-like character reaping enjoyment at a raging party out of a — never mind. PostTrak was at 74% and a low 47% definite recommend. Relish Mix says that “some are on the fence about this star-studded romp” on social. Guys at 60% attended, 45% between 18-34, 31% over 45. Diversity demos were 68% Caucasian, 12% Latino and Hispanic, 9% Black and 11% Asian and other. The movie’s business was on the coasts in the big cities, which is also not a surprise, i.e., Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and San Diego.
At the end of the day, no matter where the movie’s gross lands, Paramount did continue to champion this $80M pic for the awards season, even though it was greenlit by former Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group president Wyck Godfrey (who also produced Damien Chazelle’s First Man). In fact, the studio just made a first-look deal with Chazelle’s production company Wild Chickens, underscoring its faith in the Oscar-winning filmmaker.
A24’s The Whale busted into the top 10, ranking seventh with a $300K Friday at 603 theaters for a $933K three-day, four-day of $1.3M in its third frame at 603 theaters for a per-theater averavge of $1,500. The 18-day cume for the Darren Aronofsky-directed drama will be at $2.85M by EOD Monday. It took Focus Features’ award-lauded Tár 28 days to get to that threshold; that movie is set to stand at $5.5M by Monday. Critics are not big on The Whale at 65% fresh, but audiences at 94% are. The Whale did flips on the coasts at upscale arthouses and Alamo Drafthouse counting six of the top 10 runs in the nation.
United Artists Releasing’s Women Talking, directed by Sarah Polley, in eight locations saw $16K on Friday for what is looking like a $52K three-day, $71K four-day from five markets including NYC, LA, Toronto, Austin and Chicago. Rotten Tomatoes critics at 90% certified fresh love the ensemble featuring Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley centered on women from an isolated religious community coming to terms with their brutal past and faith.
Here’s the Top 10 as of Saturday AM:
1.) Avatar: The Way of Water (Dis/20th) 4,202 theaters, Fri $19.5M (-63%), 3-day $55M (-59%)/4-day $82M/Total: $279.7M/ Wk 2
2.) Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Uni) 4,099 theaters, Fri $3.8M, 3-day $11.1M, 4-day $17.4M/Total $24.3M/Wk 1
3.) I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Sony) 3,625 theaters, Fri $2M 3-day $5.3M-$5.5M 4-day $8M-$10M/Wk 1
4.) Babylon (Par) 3,343 theaters Fri $1.47M 3-day $3.34M 4-day $5M/Wk 1
5.) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Dis) 2,250 (-1130) theaters, Fri $1M (-30%) 3 day $2.65M (-50%)/4-day $3.89M/Total $426.5M/Wk 7
6.) Violent Night (Uni) 2,562 (-966) Fri $970K (-32%) 3-day $2.65M (-48%) 4-day $3.5M Total $41.9M/Wk 4
7.) The Whale (A24) 603 (+597) theaters, Fri $300K (+512%), 3-day $933K (+548%) 4-day $1.3M Total $2.85M/Wk 3
8) The Menu (Sea) 840 (-1035 theaters), Fri $175K (-65%) 3-day $508K (-41%) 4-Day $739K Total $33.9M/Wk 6
9) Strange World (Dis) 1,390 (-1,480) theaters, Fri $145K (-72%) 3-day $380K (-82%) 4-day $561K Total $35.75M/Wk 5
10.) Fabelmans (Uni/Amb) 1,122 (+167) theaters, Fri $120K (-44%), 3 day $344K (-54%), 4-day $534K Total $9.7M/Wk 7
FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Close to eighty cinemas have shuttered today as Winter Storm Elliott tears up the Midwest, 1.3M lose power, and many cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tallahassee set to see record cold Christmas Eve temperatures per the National Weather Service.
Multiplexes in such cities as Cleveland (16 turning off the lights), Indianapolis (14), Buffalo (13), Cincinnati (11) and Portland, OR (10) have shuttered due to brutal weather.
All of this is currently resulting in lower-than-expected weekend projections, which will hopefully correct by Christmas Day Sunday. Already, business will be down around a daily average of -50% on Christmas Eve Saturday as is typical for that day’s business.
20th Century/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water is pacing 37% ahead of yesterday’s revised $14.6M for a $20M Friday, which will put it on track for $83M 4-day, -45% from the pic’s first 4 days. Hopefully, the sequel will hit $90M at 4,202 theaters, if business shifts. That will put the pic’s 11-day box office at $280.7M.
Second belongs to Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with $3.75M today at 4,099 theaters, +29% from yesterday, for a $11M 3-day, $17.2M 4-day and 6-day of $24.1M.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody from Tri-Star/Compelling Pictures/Black Label is looking at $2.2M today (including last night’s previews), $6.3M for the weekend and $9M over 4 days at 3,625 theaters. Sony is getting a distribution free for handling with financiers recouping the P&A spend. Rotten Tomatoes critics don’t like it at 46%, but audiences love it at 94%.
Paramount’s Babylon at 3,343 theaters is seeing $1.6M today, including previews, a 3-day of $4.5M and 4-day of $6.5M in fourth. Critics’ score landed at 55% Rotten, with audience score better at 74%.
Fifth place belongs to Universal’s Violent Night at 2,526 locations with a fourth Friday of $1.1M, -21% from a week ago, for a 3-day of $2.95M, -42% and 4-day of $3.86M and running total of $42.3M.
FRIDAY AM, PREVIOUS: We’re hearing that bad weather in the Midwest significantly impacted Thursday grosses with Winter Storm Elliott intensifying into a bomb cyclone. As of this morning, more than 1 million customers are without power across the country, around 4K flights canceled and wind chill in the -20 to -30 degree range as the country gets hammered by severe winter conditions.
Avatar: The Way of Water was up only 1% from Wednesday with $14.5M for a week’s total of $197.5M at 4,202 theaters, 4% behind the first week of Top Gun: Maverick which, natch, was boosted by its Memorial Day Monday. Global is at $661.4M for the 20th Century Studios/Disney release.
Today in its 8th day at the box office, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water will cross $200M in U.S./Canada. Other films that have taken that long to cross the double century mark stateside include Captain Marvel (final gross $426.8M), Jurassic World: Dominion (final $376M) and Thor: Love and Thunder (final $343.2M).
Christmas weekend will be wonky at the box office with Christmas Eve falling on Saturday. Not only is that a down day at the box office, with most movies off -45% to -55% from the day prior, but there’s 11 NFL games alone on Saturday.
Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish made $2.9M in its second day, -9%, for a two-day total of $6.1M at 4,099 theaters.
Tri-Star/Compelling Pictures/Black Label’s Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody grossed $730K from 3,093 locations off previews that began at 2PM yesterday. While no official comps are being given, that preview cash isn’t that far from the $800K that West Side Story made on its Thursday night off showtimes that began at 5PM ($10.5M 3-day) a year ago and it’s just under what Universal’s all-femme title Sisters did on its Thursday night back on Dec. 17, 2015 ($769K) which resulted in a $13.9M opening. I Wanna Dance With Somebody is expected to open to around $12M over four days at 3,550 locations.
Fourth is Universal’s Violent Night at 3,528 theaters with $792K, -4% from Wednesday, and running domestic total of $38.4M at end of week 3. The genre action title is 137% ahead of Universal’s Black Christmas which finaled at $16.2M and $200K ahead of the studio’s 2015 holiday horror comedy Krampus at the same point in time which ultimately ended its domestic box office at $42.7M.
A24’s The Whale ranked 5th at 603 theaters with $273K, -60% from Wednesday, and a running total through the end of week 2 of $1.55M.
No grosses reported this AM for Babylon‘s previews. The hope is that this Damien Chazelle directed movie, which Paramount has supported greatly, earning five Golden Globe nominations, will be north of double digits over 4 days.