‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ M3GAN and MLK Weekend Bring $100 Million to Box Office


About half of the $100 million made at the box office over the three-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend came from “Avatar: The Way of Water” from Disney and “M3GAN” from Universal.

That’s not as good as other pre-Covid MLK weekends, which made between $130 million and $197 million with cheaper tickets, but the fact that three other movies made more than $10 million is good news for theatres.

One reason this weekend didn’t do as well was that there weren’t any strong Christmas holdovers or awards-related expansions. This suggests that there weren’t enough movies to see, not that people didn’t want to. This weekend, five movies made more than $10 million, which only happened once last year, on the July 4th weekend.

The holiday boosted Sunday totals and cut down on holdover drops, but James Cameron’s smash hit is still impressive with a 32% drop.

“Avatar” was down 15% in its first weekend, while “Titanic” was up 5%. “Way of Water” is more of a great big-budget movie than a big deal. Its total around the world is now just under $1.9 billion.

“M3GAN” fell by 41%, which is a great drop for a horror movie. Even though the 4th of July was a big holiday, “Black Phone” dropped by 48 percent in its second weekend. This Blumhouse movie is on its way to making more than $100 million in the U.S.

‘Avatar Water' M3gan and MLK Weekend Bring $100 Million to Box Office

The next three titles all did better than expected, but they were in line with what we thought would happen before the weekend. Think about the Universal movie “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”: The #3 team is only down 1% in its second week of PVOD home play. It is worth $106 million right now.

“A Man Called Otto,” which was released by Sony and opened at number four with $12.6 million, did much better than expected. After a bad start on the big screen (due to bad reviews and not being nominated for any awards), this movie seemed to be doomed, but it’s back and doing especially well in small towns.

It seems to have gotten a boost from the early buzz in 637 theatres last week because “Otto” has already made more money than any of the fall award contenders for older audiences.

Lionsgate’s acquisition “Of plane” earned $10 million. That’s fine, not great, but it’s the kind of title that theatres need to bring in more money. On day two, people were 8% more interested in the action movie starring Gerald Butler than they were on preview night and Friday.

“House Party,” which was made by Warner Bros. Discovery, made $3.9 million in 1,350 theatres. The New Line movie was supposed to be shown first on HBO Max, but it went to theatres instead with a limited release and not much advertising.

“Waltair Veerayya,” an action comedy in the Indian language Telugu called “Indin,” opened at #10 in limited release. “Skinamarink” (IFC) is a Canadian horror movie with a small budget that is getting a lot of attention on social media.

‘Avatar Water' M3gan and MLK Weekend Bring $100 Million to Box Office

It was shown in 692 theatres, but many of them only had some of the times. At #11, it made $746,000. That’s a lot for something so small.

The weekend was 39% higher than last year, and the total gross for the first 15 days of the year is 30% higher than the same time last year. It makes up 76% of 2020, and the rolling four-week comparison gets better to 60%. Still not very good, but getting better.

Only “The Whale” (A24) is still in the running for a spot in the top ten. With a big jump in theatres, it made more than $10 million and has a lot of potentials. Other big movies that are getting a lot of attention, like “The Fabelmans” from Universal, “TR” from Focus, and “The Banshees of Inisherin” from Searchlight, are getting more attention at home than in theatres.

“Saint Omer” stands out among new specialized releases (Neon). France’s International Oscar entry didn’t have a platform release. Instead, it was shown in 245 theatres in an unusual way to get more people to see it while Academy members vote.

It only made a total of $62,500, but each of its two important trips through Manhattan made around $10,000. The bet is that this strategy will increase the chances of getting nominated, which could lead to benefits on more than one platform.

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