Universal/Blumhouse/Atomic Monster’s M3GAN is a monster at the box office, with an opening of $30.2M after a rich Saturday of $11.7M, even with Friday’s take, plus previews. What a great late Christmas present for exhibition. Not to mention the start of a new franchise, as this one will have legs and give some extra bounce to the box office. That’s as we wait for Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania over Presidents Day weekend to fully blast the year off on a momentum of weekend-to-weekend money. Behold the beauty of horror: Low-risk properties — but when they hit, the sky’s the limit. M3GAN was only made for $12M before P&A.
Also, Avatar: The Way of Water crossed the half billion mark yesterday in its 23rd day of release after a $20.6M Saturday. That’s faster than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Avatar (both 32 days) and Top Gun: Maverick (30 days) to the $500M mark. Disney is reporting weekend 4 for Avatar 2 at $45M, -33%, and running total of $516.7M. Exhibition made a four-week pact with Disney to keep the sequel on Imax, PLF, Dolby screens, etc. They’d be crazy to pull them off with the pic making so much money. At this level, Avatar 2 saw the second-best 4th weekend for a film after the original 2009 film, which posted $50.3M. The pic is at $1.7 billion global, the seventh-highest of all-time, passing Jurassic World ($1.67 billion) and $208M away from overtaking Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.9B).
“M3GAN had an incredible debut this weekend, and rightly so, certainly not surprising that a collaboration between Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster would produce such a fun, creepy, thrilling story that audiences are piling into theatres to see. M3GAN over-performed industry expectations and normal grossing patterns all weekend, demonstrating great word of mouth as reenforced by its tremendous critical and audience reaction scores and no doubt pointing to a great run at the domestic box office ahead,” beamed Uni’s Domestic Distribution Boss Jim Orr this AM.
Why did Universal go this weekend with M3GAN instead of the MLK holiday weekend, when Scream went last year? Because this early January frame has proven to be a good one for horror, especially coming off a light holiday season that doesn’t have many wide releases, especially for this demographic. Also, heading into MLK weekend, M3GAN looks to have a great hold from the holiday stretch.
M3GAN pulled in 2.5M admissions this weekend repping a third of all foot traffic this weekend compared to Avatar 2, which counted 39% per EntTelligence. The average ticket price for the Blumhouse-Atomic Monster title was $11.54 (remember, it was all 2D business) compared to the national ticket average of $12.62 and Avatar 2‘s $14.60.
Indicating strong walk-up activity: EntTelligence PreSales estimated only 5% of M3GAN‘s opening weekend sales were committed the Wednesday before preview night. Scream, an established IP, had 14% complete. Evenings turned the most turnstiles at 45% after 7PM vs. 34% between 3PM to 7PM and 21% before 3PM.
Updated exits: M3GAN pulled in 53% females, overall audience of 56% over 25, and 62% between 18-34. Very diverse audience at 37% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic and Latino, 21% Black and 7% Asian. The film played like an excellent PG-13 movie would, over-exceeding its comp, that being Escape Room ($18.2M opening, 50% critics, B CinemaScore like M3GAN). While Escape Room finaled at $57M domestic, the sense is that M3GAN has more legs in her.
The pic over-indexed in Hispanic and Latino markets like Texas, where horror plays well, i.e. Rio Grande Valley, El Paso. But also over-performed in markets such as Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Birmingham.
Not to be overlooked here is Sony’s expansion of the Tom Hanks title A Man Called Otto, which posted a near $7K theater average from 637 theaters, or a $4.2M weekend. What makes this movie stand apart is, unlike the other adult movies in the marketplace which simply go after LA and NYC audiences, this one played to the heartland — a market which Hollywood has ignored and needs to consider more. Such movies as Top Gun: Maverick and American Sniper rallied in the 3,000 miles between the entertainment capitals. No NYC or LA runs in the pic’s top 10. The drama about a cynical retired older man who contemplates suicides, but has life get in the way, played best in Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Philly, Denver, Settle, Sacramento, Tampa, Detroit, Orlando, and Kansas City. The pic goes wide over MLK. Hopefully it clicks more and proves to turn the tide for older-skewing titles. Rotten Tomatoes score from audiences stands at a great 97%.
What’s the endgame stateside for Avatar 2? Some think it has a shot at $650M. Imax drove $6M this weekend, 13% of ticket sales for a running total of $67M for the large format exhibitor and its fifth-highest grossing movie of all-time in US/Canada. 3D showtimes, I hear, repped a third of Avatar 2‘s fourth weekend take.
United Artists Releasing’s drama Women Talking jumped +21 theaters to 29 for a $143K third weekend, +214%, and a running total of $340K. It’s 90% certified fresh with critics, 83% with audiences (not bad) and expands another 75 theaters in 25 markets next weekend as we head into awards season.
Overall box office for the weekend looks to be around $105M, +67% over the first weekend of 2022.
1.) Avatar 2 (Dis) 4,340 (+138) theaters Fri $11.4M, Sat $20.6M, Sun $12.95M, 3-day $45M (-33%), Total $516.7M/Wk 4
2.) M3GAN (Uni) 3,509 theaters Fri $11.7M, Sat $11.7M, Sun $6.8M 3-day $30.2M/Wk 1
3.) Puss in in Boots 2 (Uni) 3,919 (-202) theaters Fri $3.3M Sat $5.9M Sun $3.8M 3-day $13.1M (-22%)/Total $87.7M/Wk 3
4.) A Man Called Otto (Sony) 637 (+633) theaters, Fri $1.5M Sat $1.6M Sun $1M 3-day $4.2M (+7366%) Total $4.285M/Wk 2
5.) Wakanda Forever (Dis) 2255 (-55) theaters Fri $968K Sat $1.4M Sun $951K 3-day $3.39M (-34%) Total $445.4M/ Wk 9
6.) I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Sony) 3184 (-441 theaters) Fri $700K Sat $1M Sun $615K 3-day $2.4M (-39%) Total $19.6M/ Wk 3
7) The Whale (A24) 835 (+212) theaters Fri $423K Sat $638K Sun $479K 3 day $1.5M (+9%) Total $8.5M/Wk 5
8.) Babylon (Par) 2,381 (-970) theaters Fri $430K Sat $625K Sun $375K 3 day $1.4M (-45%) Total $13.5M/Wk 3
9.) Violent Night (Uni) 1,981 (-582) theaters Fri $210K Sat $330K Sun $200K 3-day $740K (-65%) Total $49.4M/Wk 6
10.) The Menu (Sea) 800 (-60) theaters, Fri $211K Sat $309K Sun $193K 3-day $713K (-35%) Total $37.6M Wk 8