Happy new year! Yes, 2023 is here. I’m not sure how that happened but hey, time makes fools of us all. The holidays are coming to an end and so we must return to normalcy, whatever that means in this day and age. So, we’re kicking off a brand new January with James Cameron at the top of the box office. Quelle surprise.
Avatar: The Way of Water is in its third week of release and is comfortably on top with $63.4 million from the new year weekend. That’s a teeny 0.2% drop from the Christmas period and nothing else came close. Much has been made about this movie somehow being a ‘flop’, something people don’t actually care about, but it’s hard to claim that an international gross of $1.39 billion is a disappointment. Sure, the movie is probably not going to make the cash its predecessor did but Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all time. If it even comes close, that’ll be impressive. It won’t hurt that The Way of Water has a couple of weeks of no competition left at the box office to fill up its pockets. Plus it was strongly reviewed and is part of the Oscar competition, which isn’t a guarantee for sequels of any kind. I mentioned in my pre-holidays box office report that Disney may just have to view the Avatar franchise as simply yet another blockbuster, which is easier said than done given its gargantuan budget. But hey, James Cameron’s surely going to be reasonably satisfied.
At number two is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with $16.3 million. Nowhere near close to its Na’vi pals but still solid for a sequel to a years’ old film that didn’t leave behind much of a fanbase. A lot of movies got big boosts over the new year weekend. Puss in Boots 2 got a 31.2% increase from its opening weekend. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had a nice 38.3% boost in its eighth week of release. Even The Fabelmans got a 53% jump, which will help with its disappointing grosses so far. Indie and adult drama counter-programming did work on some level but not to the levels it would have six or seven years ago. This is the new normal.
Dustin talked last week about how Babylon opened with a whimper for Paramount, and in its second week, things didn’t improve. It grossed $2.7 million from 3,351 theaters, putting it behind the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody. People have blamed Margot Robbie for the flop, or wondered if audiences don’t care about Hollywood drama, but I think it’s just another case of these non-franchise, adult-oriented dramas with awards buzz failing to attract audiences beyond streaming. It sucks.
The only real limited release of the weekend was Tom Hanks’ A Man Called Otto, which earned $60,000 from four theaters. Can it expand and keep audiences keen, based solely on Hanks’ star power? It didn’t exactly have fans scrambling to Disney+ for Pinocchio. Remember that one? No, not the Del Toro one.
This coming week sees the wide release of Sarah Polley’s Women Talking and the creepy sassy robot horror M3GAN.
You can check out the rest of the weekend box office here.