Paramount Pictures

Weekend box-office estimates are in and a combination of factors from extreme weather conditions pummeling a large portion of the U.S., rising concerns over COVID and flu, and that Christmas Eve/Day falls on a weekend this year has led to a not-so-jolly result.

Three new major releases – DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” Sony’s Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and Paramount’s showbiz epic “Babylon” – took on the second weekend of James Cameron’s sci-fi sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water”.

None could beat the Na’vi as Cameron’s film brought in $56 million over the traditional weekend and looks to collect $82 million between Friday and Monday – raising its domestic tally to $278 million.

The film has grossed a further $601 million internationally and currently sits as the fifth-highest-grossing movie of 2022 worldwide after just ten days. It’s expected to hit the $1 billion mark before year’s end and if it does, it will be only the third film to do so this year behind “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion”.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” will come in second with $11.3 million for the traditional weekend and an estimated $17.7 million through Monday. Since opening on Wednesday, the film has pulled in $24.6 million domesticaly and a further $32.5 million internationally.

Critics and audience scores are stellar, and the film has no real competition in the family space until “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” at Easter. Still, it will need it as the opning is considerably less than the $34 million the first “Puss in Boots” opened to in 2011, and it boasts a $90 million budget.

The Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is set for third place with a disappointing $5.3 million for the weekend and an estimated $8 million through Monday. In its favor it came in on a tight $45 million budget, and while critics have panned the film, the audience scores are soaring, including an A CinemaScore which suggests good repeat business in the coming weeks.

Damien Chazelle’s R-rated “Babylon” is a bomb. The $80 million budgeted feature snagged $3.5 million for the weekend and is expected to pull in an estimated $5.3 million through Monday. Compound its 189-minute runtime, divided critical reviews and woeful C+ CinemaScore – it’s not good. An international release in late January should help ease the pain.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has crossed the $800 million global box-office mark this weekend after seven weeks of release. Ultimately the overall domestic box office collected $86 million over the weekend – making it the worst Christmas weekend box-office, 2020 pandemic aside, in two decades.

Source: Variety

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