“Avatar: The Way of Water” claimed the No. 1 spot on the domestic box-office charts for a seventh weekend in a row with an additional $15.7 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
It was a quiet weekend overall, notable mostly for the Hindi language blockbuster “Pathaan” that broke into the top five and the post-Oscar nominations re-releases of films like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “The Fabelmans.”
The first-place North American run of “Avatar 2” has only been matched by the first “Avatar,” and, in the past 25 years, bested by “Titanic” (which stayed in first place for 15 weeks). All three were directed by James Cameron.
Globally, “The Way of Water” has now grossed an estimated $2.1 billion, passing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to become the fourth-highest grossing film of all time (of which Cameron has directed three).
“James Cameron just keeps ticking off all the records and milestones,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “And it’s still got a wide-open marketplace.”
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Second place went to the family-oriented “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish,” which made $10.6 million in its sixth weekend. The animated spinoff has earned more than $140.8 million in North America and was recently made available to stream at home.
Third place went to Tom Hanks’ “A Man Called Otto” with $6.8 million from 3,957 locations. The meme-able horror flick “M3GAN” snuck into fourth place with $6.4 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $82.3 million.
The Indian film “Pathaan,” starring Shah Rukh Kha in his first role in five years, settled in fifth place with $5.9 million from only 695 screens.
“A top five appearance is really impressive,” says Dergarabedian.
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The horror movie “Infinity Pool,” written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg and starring Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård, launched in 1,853 locations following its Sundance Film Festival debut. It made an estimated $2.7 million. The romantic comedy “Maybe I Do,” with Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, made $562,000 from 465 screens. And Lukas Dhont’s Cannes-winning boyhood drama “Close” opened on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, earning $68,143.
Many studios boasting best picture nominees also chose to capitalize on the buzz of Tuesday’s Oscar nominations with sizable re-releases. “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which got a leading 11 nominations, came back to theaters in force playing on 1,400 screens where it earned another $1 million for $71 million domestically to date. Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” nominated for seven Oscars, also expanded to 1,962 screens in North America and took in an additional $760,000, bringing its domestic total to $16 million. And Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” also added a few hundred screens, earning $1 million for the weekend. It’s made $2.4 million to date. The Oscar boosts could continue over the coming weeks, too – the show isn’t until March 12.
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“We are seeing in real time the halo effect of the Oscar nominations on these best picture nominees,” Dergarbedian says. “The Oscar bounce is back, something we haven’t seen over the past couple of years.”
Several of the highest-profile releases of the weekend were star-driven comedies that went straight to streaming: Netflix had “You People,” with Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jonah Hill and Lauren London, and Amazon Prime Video offered “Shotgun Wedding,” with Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Coolidge.
Seven weekends into “Avatar 2,” theater owners are also likely looking for the next big blockbuster, which is still a ways off. “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” doesn’t arrive in theaters until Feb. 17.
But, as Dergarabedian says, “2023 is already looking more like 2019 rather than the last three years” and “this is great news for theaters.”
Final numbers will be out Monday.
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Story Credit: usatoday.com