After an overall worrisome Christmas corridor for moviegoing, the first full weekend of January is bringing relief for Hollywood and theater owners, thanks to Avatar: The Way of Water and new offering M3GAN, a sci-fi themed horror pic from Universal and Blumhouse.
The Way of Water, which was the lone movie to do big business at the year-end box office, will earn anywhere from $40 million to $45 million in its fourth weekend. Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, the 20th Century and Disney tentpole will jump the $500 million mark at the domestic box office, a feat accomplished by only two other films since the pandemic began, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Top-Gun: Maverick. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, this milestone was achieved by a select few in any given year.
M3GAN even beat The Way of Water on Friday with $11.7 million, including $2.75 million in Thursday previews. The Avatar sequel, which posted a Friday gross of $11.4 million, will overtake M3GAN on Saturday.
Still, M3GAN is looking at a stellar $27 million-$29 million opening in North America, the top opening for a PG-13 horror film since A Quiet Place Part II in 2021. And it’s the best opening for any film launching during the first weekend of January since 2018.
Thanks to the two movies, box office revenue will be up more than 67 percent from the same weekend in 2022 (historically, the first frame of January is notably quiet).
Directed by Gerard Johnstone, M3GAN tells the tale of a robotic doll who becomes obsessed with a young girl. Critics gave the film high marks, while it received a B CinemaScore from audiences.
Elsewhere, Tom Hanks-starrer A Man Called Otto is looking at a fourth-place finish after expanding into 637 theaters. The Sony film is expected to earn $3.7 million to $4.5 million over the weekend.
Weekend numbers will be updated Sunday morning.
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