It was a good weekend to be the self proclaimed king of the world as James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water held on strong in its third week of release. The film notched $63.4 million for the final weekend of 2022. In my original predictions, I thought the film would have a very small week to week drop which would have been good news for the film, but a 0% change from its second to third week is even better! I guess that is what James Cameron movies do, they surprise us not just with what is on the screen but with how they perform. 

Avatar: The Way of Water, first reactions

It is like we said when the film opened to an underwhelming $135 million, the film would have legs (the way all James Cameron directed films do) and in the long run would be a success. Just how big a success it will ultimately be is still to be determined. But with the director already filming the majority of Avatar’s 3&4 to avoid the “Stranger Things” effect as he called it, the franchise is going to be just fine! Of course, I wouldn’t mind if he left it behind to focus on righting the Terminator ship as seems to be a possibility, as I think he is the only one who could come in and fix that franchise after every sequel since he left has been pretty horrible.

Second place belongs to another sequel: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with an estimated $16.3 million which represents a 31% gain from last weekend. I guess people just didn’t want to go to the movies during Christmas! Combine that and the fact that the majority of the country was in a deep freeze, while this week sees over 60 degree weather (that’s Fahrenheit not Celsius as I believe 60 degrees celsius would bring about the end of days). This is another film that got off to a slow start but will ultimately be just fine.

Black Panther Wakanda Forever

Third place looks to be Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with $4.8 million which represents a 38% gain over last week. Perhaps this was the weekend when the people who still had family over decided they had done everything they possibly could do and decided a nice trip to the local multiplex was in order. The film, which has picked up a solid 74 Award Nominations so far including 14 alone for the Angela Bassett in the Best Supporting Actress category (If I may toot my own horn, when Wakanda Forever opened eight weeks ago, I was already championing some awards recognition for the legendary actress. Now, I’m not going to take all the credit for her receiving so many nominations, but it is obvious every awards group saw that initial box office wrap up and agreed with me!)

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Spots four and five went to box office under performers Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody with $4.2 million representing a 11% drop from last weeks already dismal numbers and Babylon with $2.7 million which represents a 24% drop from last week. As a huge proponent of the big screen experience, I am happy these films embraced the theatrical experience, but I do think they will play much better when they hit home video. Which isn’t to say they should have bypassed theaters. When a film is released theatrically it receives attention that a film released directly to streaming doesn’t. Sometimes the best advertising a film can get, is a big screen release that raises its awareness. I think with all that has been written about Babylon, people will decide to invest their time watching it at some point. The Whitney Houston biopic may have a harder time finding its audience as run of the mill biopics tend to fade into obscurity pretty quickly (does anyone remember when Ashton Kutcher played Steve Jobs?!)

Coming in sixth and still pulling in solid numbers despite Christmas being over and done with is Violent Night with an estimated $2.1 million. As a big fan of the film, I’m happy people are still seeking out this R rated yuletide classic. 

Coming in seventh place is The Whale starring a never better Brendan Fraser with an estimated $1.3 million, representing a solid 28% increase over last week. It seems word of mouth for this Darren Aronofsky drama is quite good. Expect this one to continue to play well over the next few months as Fraser racks up the nominations (he already has 30 individual nominations with more still to come including likely SAG and Academy Award nominations.)

Closing out the top ten this weekend is The Fabelmans with $1.14 million followed by the continued successful run of The Menu with $1.07 million and Strange World with $538 thousand.

As we close out 2022, we take a look back at the years numbers as the good people at Comscore have provided some year end analytics. As of right now the top grossing movie of the year is Top Gun: Maverick with $1.4 billion however Avatar: The Way of Water is hot on its heels with a running total of nearly $1.2 billion. Over the next few weeks you can expect Avatar: The Way of Water to officially become the highest grossing film released in 2022 at the worldwide box office. Overall films saw an over 64% increase from last year but were still down from pre-pandemic numbers. 

Overall, how did you feel about the output of 2022? Did you find enough to enjoy in theaters? As we look ahead to 2023, head over to our weekly poll and let us know what 2023 movie are you most looking forward to.

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