‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Eyes $90M+ Christmas Weekend: Box Office – Deadline

Christmas weekend is definitely Avatar: The Way of Water‘s to win at the box office, however, how big or small that is remains the question especially this early in the week. At the bare minimum, the 20th Century Studios/Disney movie should secure $60M-$65M for the 3-day and $90M-$95M for the 4-day. That’s on par with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which played into its second weekend in a year when Christmas fell on a Sunday. Avatar 2 made $16M yesterday, with a Sunday to Monday decline at -56% which was similar to Rogue One‘s -54%. Rogue One‘s first Monday was $17.5M. Some rivals won’t be surprised if Avatar 2 touches $100M over its four-day run. Through four days, Avatar 2 counts just over $150M.

In a smaller Christmas than last year when there were five new wide releases, this year we have three in Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Paramount’s Damien Chazelle directed Hollywood period epic Babylon, and Sony/Tri-Star’s Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody. While there was an looming threat of Omicron last year, one which did not stop Spider-Man: No Way Home from becoming the third highest grossing movie of all-time stateside ($814.1M), this year there’s really no high alert over the virus. That said, as many watched No Way Home ate up everyone’s business last year, except for Universal/Illumination Animation’s family title That 2 – the only movie to break through and make north of $100M ($162.7M domestic) – many studios decided to go with definite adult counterprogramming to Avatar 2; Babylon aimed at upscale adults over 35, and I want to dance with somebody at Black audiences and older adults as well, versus trying to create a second choice for fanboys in the marketplace. Last year, it was Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Resurrections which had its box office further impacted by a theatrical day-and-date drop on HBO Max, and years prior, particularly when Avatar came out in 2009, it was the Robert Downey Jr-Jude Law period action pic Sherlock Holmes.

courtesy Universal

Puss in Boots: The Last Wishlike That 2 last year, looks to be the second favorite over the holiday attracting both girls and boys with a 3-day between $15M-$20M at 4,000+ theaters. That 2 opened with $22.3M last year over the holiday weekend when Christmas fell on a Saturday. The pic is 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with critics. No previews tonight for the sequel which opens tomorrow. Already, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish has minted $14M in 25 International markets to date. The sequel will debut in another 28 markets including China, Mexico, Spain and Germany.

BABYLON, from left: Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, 2022, courtesy Paramount/Everett Collection

The R-rated Margot Robbie-Brad Pitt, 6x Golden Globe nominated Babylon arrives to cinemas after extensive previews by Paramount since mid November with 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. The $80M production, which was shot in and around Santa Clarita, CA, is looking to at least get north of double digits over four days at 3,342 theaters, particularly with the movie’s 3 hours 8 minutes running time. It should file behind Puss in Boots 2. The studio is hoping to hook the 18-34 crowd with the pic’s bawdy nature. Previews start on Thursday at 3PM.

Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’

TriStar Pictures

Some believe TriStar’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody could eat into the ticket sales of Babylon; the Kasi Lemmons-directed movie eyeing a $12M 4-day at 3,550 locations. BAFTA Award winner Naomi Ackie stars as the tragic R&B superstar Houston and Stanley Tucci stars as record mogul Clive Davis. No Rotten Tomatoes rating yet, which isn’t a good sign as the pic’s previews start at 2PM on Thursday. Black Label is a financier here and the Houston biopic reps a distribution deal for Sony.

Also expanding is A24’s The Whale from 6 theaters in NYC and LA to 600 nationwide. The Darren Aronofsky directed drama has grossed over $588K through 11 days.

Aside from the lack of big pics in the marketplace this coming weekend, many are bemoaning Christmas falling on a Sunday this weekend, which means Christmas Eve Saturday will be a real downer for business with most films off between 45%-55% in their daily grosses from Friday. When’s the best time for Christmas to fall in the course of a box office week? “Wednesday” said one distribution source. The only upside to the holiday is that moviegoing surges on the day of and thereafter through the rest of the year.

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