The final weekend of January 2023 is in the books (January always seems to go fast) and Avatar: The Way of Water will close out the first month of the year the same way it closed out the last month of last year: on top! With an additional $15.7 million added to its impressive domestic total of $620.5 million, which officially puts the James Cameron sequel into the top ten all time domestic earners. Quite the feat when you consider it opened to less than The Twilight Saga: New Moon (the angsty vampire sequel starring a young Batman opened to $142.8 million while Avatar 2 opened to $134.1 million).
Of course the real story is in the worldwide grosses where Avatar: The Way of Water has amassed an impressive $2.09 billion where it has taken over the number four spot on the list from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and is only about $100 million away from sinking the Titanic for a second time. I really doubt it has another $700 million in its tank to bring down Avengers: Endgame to claim the second spot on the all time list, but I have learned that when it comes to anything Avatar: never say never. Oh, and did I mention it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture this week?!
Coming in second place is the hit animated film Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with an estimated $10.6 million. Which is quite impressive when you consider that is only about $2 million off what it opened with back in mid December. With $140.8 million made at the domestic box office, it only has a scant $9 million to go before it passes the domestic total of the first film. When you add to that continued success of the Tom Hanks led A Man Called Otto which finished in third place this weekend with $6.7 million added to its impressive running total of $46.05 million, I think we are seeing that it can really pay to release your movies in December as January tends to be an empty playground for your movies to leg out.
Of course there is one genre that defies the doldrums of the January Box Office and that is horror, and with $6.3 million added to her till, M3GAN is proving to be the little killer doll that could! The film, one of two “edited for content” movies in theaters this week (we’ll get to that in a moment), was originally shot as an R rated blood fest, but was tamed down to a PG13 when it was realized a few cuts could get it to be a killer robotic doll movie for the whole family to enjoy! Even though I would prefer to see the R rated cut (as our own Chris Bumbray points out in his 7/10 review, it is pretty obvious where some of these cuts were made) it is hard to argue with the PG13 theatrical cut’s gross of $82.2 million off of a reported $12 million budget.
Missing and Plane continue to pull in run of the mill numbers with Missing netting an additional $5.6 million this weekend and Plane adding $3.8 million. I actually went and saw Plane this weekend and found it be quite entertaining. The opening twenty or so minutes with the actual plane crash are really well done with some solid edge of your seat moments while Gerard Butler continues to prove why he is the perfect person to lead these old school style action movie. I would recommend checking it out in theaters, but if you can’t make it out, definitely check it out on video as it is definitely worth your time (something our own Chris Bumbray and I agree on as he rated Plane a solid 8/10).
So now we have some new releases to talk about. It would seem fans of Indian language films have again made their fandom known as Pathaan pulled in a very respectable $5.9 million on just under 700 screens. I must admit, this one came out of nowhere for me as I didn’t even feature it in my predictions from Thursday. These films that are geared towards specific crowds have continued to prove their worth. We are starting to see these Indian language films garner more respect and acclaim as well when you consider the action film RRR was just named one of the best films of the year by the National Board of Review (making it only the 2nd non English language film to ever achieve that honor.) Although it did miss out on a Best Foreign Language film at this years Oscars (due to India not submitting it for consideration in the category) it is still nominated (and the current front runner) to win the Oscar for Best Original Song for the excellent “Naatu Naatu.”
The next new release making its way on our charts this weekend is the Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) film Infinity Pool with an estimated $2.7 million. Much like the films of his father, this one has not been free of controversy when you consider it was slapped with an NC-17 rating for excessive sex and violence (which just makes it sound even more awesome). Sadly the dirty little secret of anyone who went to see this one in theaters this weekend is this: you actually saw an R rated, edited for content, version of the film as most major movie chains will not play an NC-17 rated film (for reasons I don’t fully understand). If you were lucky enough to make it to this years Sundance Film Festival, like our Editor in Chief Chris Bumbray was, you actually were one of the lucky few who got to see Cronenberg’s debaucherous tale in all of its NC-17 glory (where Mr. Bumbray gave it his stamp of approval with an 8/10 rating.) One can only hope we get the full Brandon Cronenberg approved cut of the film when it hits Blu ray later this year.
The next new release on our Box Office tour is the faith based Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist with an estimated $2.3 million. Who else saw Kevin Sorbo directing and starring in a top ten finishing movie on their 2023 box office scorecard? Anyone?? I will be honest, these movies are not in my wheelhouse and as such I had no idea this was a fairly profitable franchise all based off a 1995 book series of the same name. The film franchise kicked off in 2000 with Kirk Cameron starring. That one got bad reviews and made only $4 million off a $17 million budget. So naturally two years later a sequel was released called Left Behind II: Tribulation Force that went straight to video where I guess it did well enough to warrant a third film in the series titled Left Behind: World At War which starred Lou Gossett Jr and Kirk Cameron because those are two names we always assumed would share a marquee one day! Then in 2014 producers wisened up and brought in a ringer when they rebooted the franchise with none other than Nicholas Cage. Well that version did make a little coin, $27.4 million off a $16 million budget, but is the recipient of a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. So naturally, you remove the Oscar Winning actor and add the star of the Hercules TV series from the mid 90’s for the sequel to the remake of the big screen adaptation of the book, and you get Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist which even with all the snark I just flung at you, is a top ten finishing movie this weekend, so I guess the jokes on me!
Rounding out our list is the Chinese prequel film The Wandering Earth II with an estimated take of $1.3 million on just 160 screens. The film is a prequel to the massively successful 2019 film The Wandering Earth which had a domestic box office cume of just under $6 million while internationally (mainly China) it grossed an impressive $694 million.
Did you make it to theaters this weekend? If so, what did you see? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check out our weekly poll where we ask what your favorite Tom Hanks Movie is.