“Avatar: The Way of Water” topped the domestic box office charts for the seventh consecutive weekend with an additional $15.7 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
It was a quiet weekend overall, especially for Hindi blockbuster ‘Pathaan’ which broke into the top five and re-releases of movies like ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ and ‘The Fabelmans’ after the Oscar nominations.
The North American No. 1 spot of “Avatar 2” has only been matched by the first “Avatar” and, for the past 25 years, bested by “Titanic” (which held the No. 1 spot for 15 weeks). All three were directed by James Cameron.
Globally, ‘The Way of Water’ has now grossed around $2.1 billion, surpassing ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, to become the fourth highest-grossing film of all time (of which Cameron has some). achieved three).
“James Cameron keeps ticking off all the records and milestones,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “And he still has a wide open market.”
Second place went to Universal and DreamWorks’ family offering “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which grossed $10.6 million in its sixth weekend. The animated spinoff has grossed over $140.8 million in North America and was recently made available to stream at home as well.
Third place went to Sony’s “A Man Called Otto” with $6.8 million from 3,957 locations. Memorable horror “M3GAN,” a Universal release, snuck in at number four with $6.4 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $82.3 million. .
Indian film ‘Pathaan’, starring Shah Rukh Kha in his first role in five years, settled in fifth place with $5.9 million from just 695 screens.
“A top five appearance is truly impressive,” Dergarabedian said, noting that the market over the past few years has presented opportunities for Indian films to break into the domestic top 10.
Neon also launched the horror film “Infinity Pool”, written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg and starring Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård, in 1,853 locations after its debut at Sundance. It grossed around $2.7 million. The romantic comedy “Maybe I Do,” starring Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandan, grossed $562,000 from 465 screens. And Cannes-winning Lukas Dhont’s children’s drama “Close” hit four screens in New York and Los Angeles, earning $68,143.
Many studios with top picture nominees also chose to capitalize on the buzz from Tuesday’s Oscar nominations with major re-releases. “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which earned 11 nominations, returned strongly to theaters across 1,400 screens where it grossed an additional $1 million. The A24 version has grossed $71 million domestically to date. Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” nominated for seven Oscars, also expanded to 1,962 screens in North America and grossed another $760,000, bringing its domestic total to $16 million. And Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” also added a few hundred screens, earning $1 million over the weekend. It has grossed $2.4 million to date. The Oscar increases could also continue over the next few weeks – the show isn’t until March 12.
“We see in real time the halo effect of Oscar nominations on these top nominees,” Dergarbedian said. “The Oscar bounce is back, something we haven’t seen in the past two years.”
Several of the weekend’s highest-profile releases were both star-led comedies that went straight to streaming: Netflix had “You People,” starring 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 after “Avatar 2,” theater owners are likely looking for the next big blockbuster, which is still a long way off. “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” doesn’t hit theaters until February 17.
But, as Dergarabedian put it, “2023 already looks more like 2019 than it has to the past three years.”
“This is great news for theaters,” he said. “You have the Oscars bounce at stake, an Indian film in the top 5 and ‘Avatar’ breaking records left and right.”
Estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore, with Wednesday-Sunday in brackets. Final national figures will be released on Monday.
1. “Avatar: The Way of the Water,” $15.7 million.
2. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”, $10.6 million.
3. “A Man Called Otto,” $6.8 million,
4. “M3GAN”, $6.4 million.
5. “Pathaan,” $5.9 million.
6. “Missing”, $3.8 million.
7. “Airplane”, 3.8 million dollars.
8. “Infinity Pool,” $2.7 million.
9. “Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist,” $2.4 million.
10. “The Wandering Earth 2”, $1.4 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.