The first weekend of 2023 is in the books and as expected the giant known as Avatar: The Way of Water continued its utter dominance with another $45 million added to its coffers to bring the James Cameron-directed sequel to an impressive $516.7 million domestically. As impressive as this number is stateside, the real magic happens outside the domestic box office as the sequel, according to Cameron himself, has hit its break even pointwith a total of over 1.5 billion dollars and now he will make the next films in the franchise.
I’ll be honest, there’s something I still don’t understand about all this “break-even” stuff: the movie had a reported budget of about $450 million, so all these “break-even” reports are based on that, but Cameron said he filmed the majority of the third film and parts of the fourth film at the same time. So wouldn’t the break-even point for part 2 be much smaller? Does it mean that Avatar 3’s break even point will be much less considering they just have to cover their post production costs? Perhaps one of our wiser readers can help shed some light on this in the comments, as everything I’ve read on the subject has only confused me even more! (Yes, I know all of you reading this think of me as a Mensa-level genius, but alas, I’m only a regular-level genius!)
The big news for this weekend is the massive success of the newly released horror film M3GAN which opened with a strong $30.2 million (over $10 million over my original prediction). What’s even more impressive is that on Friday it officially became the first film to knock Avatar: The Way of Water from its perch atop the box office as it pulled in another $11.7 million Avatars 11.4 million dollars. Of course, there’s an asterisk next to that number, since the $11.7 includes the $3 million M3GAN made in its previews that began at 5 p.m. Thursday. Of course, this is just splitting hairs in the official books (I don’t know if there are official books, but for the sake of argument we’ll say there is) M3GAN is the first film to hit Avatar: The Way of Water at the ticket office (if only for one day!)
This opening is another feather in the cap for not only James Wan, who has transformed himself into one of the biggest names in horror, but for Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, who continue to make films with relatively small budgets (in in this case $12 million ) and make massive profits. If you take the measure that a film generally spends another half of the film’s budget on marketing, that puts everything in the budget on M3GAN to about 20 million dollars. Take any backend offers or additional compensation paid to one of the participants, and you’ve got this $30.2 million opening weekend pretty much already a profit. Blumhouse is known for trusting their filmmakers and letting them make the movies they want to make without interference and I think the proof is in the pudding as they say and the success Jason Blum and his production company have seen over the years , should be a blue print for other studios to stop messing with their filmmakers and let them make the movies you hired them to make!
Coming in third this weekend is the only real family option available: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with an estimated weekend take of $13.1 million and a domestic total of $87.7 million. That’s not a terrible number for this animated sequel, but it’s still roughly $20 million where the original was after its third weekend of release. The film should stay on the family market for a while, as the nearest family film in the calendar is the new one Winnie the Pooh movie comes out on february 15th… wait that’s not right i don’t think so Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey is aimed at the family market, but Super Mario Bros. Movie is, which doesn’t come out until April 7th, 2023. Of course, with Universal sticking to their short theatrical-to-digital windows (in this case, just 19 days since it hit theaters), Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is now available to rent or buy on your own TV and may end up costing the movie a few dollars at the box office (which I guess they compensate for the digital purchases? But I know I’d be upset if I spent over $100 to take a family of five to the theater if only I could have waited less than three weeks and saved over 70 bucks!)
In fourth place comes the remake starring Tom Hanks A man named Otto with $4.2 million on just 637 screens. The film which has received decent if not overwhelmingly positive reviews (including 5/10 from our own Chris Bumbray) seems to have caught on with fans, giving it a 97% audience score (by comparison, current box office champ Avatar: The Way of Water has an audience score of 92%, while M3GAN has 79 per cent As I said in my original predictions, people will see Tom Hanks in almost anything, he is one of the few actors working today who has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his movies (although if i’ll honestly be his latest live action Pinocchio tested me a bit!)
The rest of the top ten appear to be your holdover titles included Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in fifth place with $3.3 million followed by Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody with 2.4 million In seventh place comes Darren Aronofsky’s The whale with another $1.5 million added to its coffers, which actually represents a 9% increase over last week. It’s clear that people are rooting for Brendan Fraser’s sure-to-be Oscar-nominated (and good enough to be Oscar-winning, in my most humble opinion) performance. Eighth place belongs to Damien Chazelle’s tale of 1920s Hollywood excesses, Babylon, with another $1.4 million added to its box office total of just $13.5 million. Although the film is one of the biggest flops in recent times, I must say it is worth watching. Despite its overly long running time (3 hours and 9 minutes), there are moments of absolute genius on screen. Maybe it will find its audience when it hits home video.
Coming in ninth place is Violent night with an additional $740,000. I think it’s pretty impressive considering the Christmas season is long in our rearview mirrors, but some people are still heading to the cinema to see Santa kick a little ass! And finally, tenth place belongs to a movie I re-watched the other night, which made it my favorite movie of 2022: The menu with an additional $713,000. I can’t say much about this one without giving away what makes it so great, but it’s one of the most original films I’ve ever seen with absolutely perfect performances from its entire cast (including Golden Globe nominated performances by Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes This is one I really hope the SAG Awards nominate for their Best Supporting Actor award as it would 100% get my vote)
Have you been to the cinema this weekend? If so, what did you see and was it good? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to check out our weekly poll where we ask what is your favorite Blumhouse Production.