Terrible Weekend at the Box Office, Then ‘Avatar: Waterway’

At the very least, its $37 million weekend total isn’t likely to be matched for long. Next weekend could be six times better.

With a total of $37 million, it couldn’t get much worse than this weekend. This year, it won’t: Thursday premieres of James Cameron’s (Disney) “Avatar: The Way of Water” are supposed to double. By the end of the weekend, it could reach $200 million.

It was the second-worst weekend of 2022 (by only narrow from the end of January). We can’t blame the calendar: Same Date last year took in $44 million. In 2019, it was $118 million.

With no new studio openings, the share compared to pre-Covid 2019 (with ticket prices down 20 percent) is 31 percent. That year saw “Jumanji: The Next Level” open to $59 million, disproving the notion that this date should be avoided.

Of course, one of the main reasons to avoid this weekend is because it immediately follows “Avatar.” Since studios are making fewer movies, they hate pitting the second weekend of a big release against a blockbuster.

Disney’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” took the top spot for the fifth and final time ($11 million, $409 million domestic total), down 37 percent. That’s fine at this point, but with no significant new replacements, it’s down more than all but one of the other 10 titles.

Give credit to struggling “The Fabelmans” (Universal) for dropping just seven percent. But that comes with a caveat: Steven Spielberg’s movie added 335 theaters (now 973), with its per-theater average down by about a third. The movie has pulse, but it’s not enough to argue Universal’s decision to put it on PVOD this week in hopes of catching more of its older audience.

“a violent night”

Allen Fraser / Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Universal’s “Violent Night,” which was down 35 percent, had a much better-than-usual second weekend for a horror game. She’s No. 2, already at $26 million, and could potentially get you some holiday playdates. Not only would Strange World (Disney) rise above the disaster, but it fell in third place, down just 22 percent. “List” (the search light) is No. 4, down just 14 percent. It could top Disney Animation’s $200 million entry.

The only new movie — not a new title — in the top 10 is Focus’s “Spoiler Alert,” which expands in its second week to 783 theaters for just $700,000.

This is one less than “Met Opera: The Hours” (Fathom), which reached No. 9 for the weekend. And $792,000 in 894 theaters came from one showing on Saturday. It’s not a movie. It was a live opera that was taken to theaters. This makes our top ten list of some of the presentations in theaters that audiences buy tickets for, some of which are not movies. As a compromise, this week we’ve expanded the list to 11 titles to include 10 movies.

top ten (+1; see above)

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Disney) Week Five; Last Weekend #1

$11,100,000 (-37%) in 3,725 (-130) theaters; PTA (for theater average): $2,980; Cumulative: $409,811,000

2. A violent night (global) week 2; Last weekend #2

$8,700,000 (-35%) in 3,723 (+41) theaters; PTA: $2,337; Cumulative: $26,694,000

3. Strange World (Disney) week 3; Last weekend #3

$3,600,000 (-29%) in 3,560 (-614) theaters; PTA: $1,011; Cumulative: $30,454,000

4. Menu (scout) week 4; Last weekend #4

$2,700,000 (-22%) in 2,710 (-100) theaters; PTA: $996 Cumulative: $29,028,000

5. Loyalty (S0ny) week 3; Last weekend #5

$2,000,000 (-27%) in 3,458 (+53) theaters; PTA: $578; Cumulative: $16,972,000

6. Black Adam (WBD) Week Seven; Last Weekend #7; Also on PVOD

$1,340,000 (-14%) in 2,143 (-88) theaters; PTA: $625 Cumulative: $166,873

7. Fablemans (global) week 4; Last weekend #8

$1,180,000 (-7%) in 973 (+345) theaters; PTA: $1,213; Cumulative: $7,330,000

8. MET Opera: The Hours (understand) new

$791,734 in 894 theaters; PTA: $958 Cumulative: $791,734

9. I heard the bells (understand) the second week; Last weekend #6

$750,713 (-62%) in 1,180 (+98) theaters; PTA: $636 Cumulative: $4,073,000

10. Spoiler alert (focus) week 2; Last weekend #19

$700,000 (+744%) in 783 theaters (+777); PTA: $895 Cumulative: $802,593

11. Ticket to Heaven (global) week eight; Last Weekend #10; Also on PVOD and Peacock

$600,000 (-30%) in 1,394 (-321) theaters; PTA: $430 Cumulative: $67,514,00

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