James Cameron’s Avatar. The sci-fi sequel Waterway dominated the box office over Christmas, even as a major winter storm kept audiences indoors.
Extreme weather conditions are hitting much of the US with freezing temperatures, high winds and blankets of snow, contributing to low attendance at movie theaters. For theater owners, that’s especially disappointing for 2022, as they rely on the holiday season for brisk attendance. Hollywood was already worried that the big box office would be depressed because Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday and Christmas falls on a Sunday, reducing the number of weekends. The trio of new releases failed to respond at the box office due to bad weather, as well as growing concerns about cases of COVID, RSV virus and flu.
All three major new releases, Paramount’s lavish showbiz epic Babylon, Universal and DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots. animated cartoon The Last Wish and Sony’s Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, as well as the Avatar sequel. trying to fix the soil in the next week. Many Americans go away between Christmas and New Years, so it’s a popular time to go to the movies.
Even in unfavorable circumstances “Avatar. It expects to collect $82 million between Friday and Monday, bringing its domestic tally to $278 million. The first Avatar faced similar adverse weather when it opened in December 2009, but that didn’t stop the film from setting all-time records with $760 million in North America and $2.92 billion worldwide.
With promising business for the week, the Avatar sequel has collected $601 million internationally and $855.4 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2022 after just 10 days in theaters. The $350 million marquee aims to hit the $1 billion mark by the end of the year. Only two other films, Top Gun. Maverick” and “Jurassic World. Dominion” films managed to reach that milestone this year.
Far from Pandora, the R-rated Babel , directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, bombed with $3.5 million from 3,343 locations over the weekend and is on track for $5.3 million through Monday. The film’s particularly dire start, along with its C+ CinemaScore from audiences, suggest that even with the winter blues, the 3-hour-and-9-minute Babylon might not have resonated on the big screen.
That’s a problem because the film cost about $80 million to produce and tens of millions more to market, meaning the Oscar winner will become a money loser if business doesn’t pick up in the coming days. The film’s international release in late January should help ticket sales. But unless luck changes, “Babylon” may be the only blemish on Paramount’s otherwise unexpectedly stellar year at the box office, with “Top Gun. From Maverick to horror thriller Smile.
David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, said there’s still room for optimism about “Babylon,” Hollywood’s dominant song. “The film will get a lot of momentum if it gets big award nominations,” he says.
“Piss in shoes. “The Last Wish,” a sequel set in the “Shrek” universe, finished second with $11.3 million from 4,099 locations for the weekend and $17.7 million through Monday. Since the film opened on Wednesday, those tickets will total $24.6 million. The film earned $32.5 million internationally and $57.2 million worldwide. With no competition from family movies until Super Mario Bros. Movie opens in April 2023, the second Puss in Boots hopes to stay strong until the new year.
“It’s a charming film, and the response from our audiences has been stellar,” said Jim Orr, president of Universal’s domestic distribution. “We are going to have a stellar week.”
By comparison, the original Puss in Boots opened to $34 million in 2011 and ended up grossing $554 million worldwide, enough for a sequel. With the $90 million feline sequel earning solid reviews and an “A” CinemaScore, analysts believe the weather played a significant role in lower-than-expected box office sales. The sequel was expected to make $30 million in its opening weekend.
“This opening was only derailed by extreme weather,” adds Gross. “With the school holidays, the film may recover some of its business next week.”
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” secured a disappointing third place weekend with $5.3 million from 3,625 theaters and $7.5 million to $9 million through Monday. Over the weekend, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Babylon” are each projected to earn between $12 million and $15 million over the extended holiday. It cost $45 million, less than the others in wide release, so it won’t take much for a musical film to turn a profit. And audiences seemed to enjoy the film, which stars Naomie Aki as the late pop icon Whitney Houston, giving it an “A” CinemaScore, which bodes well for her big-screen prospects.
Elsewhere, Disney and Marvel’s “Black Panther. Wakanda Forever’ is approaching the $800 million mark. After seven weeks, the superhero sequel has grossed $425.7 million domestically and $799.5 million worldwide.
Overall, the weekend grossed $86 million domestically, according to Comscore. Christmas Day is projected to bring in just $34.4 million, making it the lowest-grossing holiday (except for 2020, when most theaters were still closed) in two decades.
“A slower period after Christmas shouldn’t come as a surprise,” said Paul Dergarapetian, senior analyst at Comscore. “Only five films opened in wide release in December, leaving the last week of the year in the cold.”