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Outside of the big-budget tentpole, there wasn’t much feasting to be had, thanks to a brutal weather and general moviegoer apathy regarding the other new films. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish launched behind expectations, while Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Babylon got off to dismal starts. Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday and Christmas on a Sunday this year, which did not help matters.
Revenue was down sharply even from last year. The hope now is that traffic will pick up this week and over New Year’s weekend.
Not that Avatar 2 is worried. The film, from 20th Century and Disney, fared better than expected over Christmas to finish Monday with an estimated domestic tally of $293.2 million and $955.1 million globally to become the No. 2 top-grossing Hollywood pic of the year behind Top Gun: Maverick. Overseas, The Way of Water collected a sizable $168.6 million over Christmas weekend (three days) for a foreign total through Sunday of $601.7 million, including more than $100 million from China. By the end of Monday — Boxing Day — the foreign total grew to $661.9 million.
DreamWorks Animation and Universal’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which began its run Wednesday, had been tracking for a six-day launch in the $30 million to $35 million range. Instead, the film posted a six-day launch of $25 million to $26 million. Its lackluster performance underscores ongoing concern about the strength of the family market as the industry recovers from the pandemic. Universal remains convinced The Last Wish will have a long run in theaters since it faces little competition in the coming weeks.
The Last Wish, which earned an A CinemaScore, came in No. 2 domestically. Overseas, it has brought in a total of $32.5 million for a projected global cume of $57.2 million through Monday.
TriStar’s Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Paramount’s Babylon both needed adults, also an endangered demo in the pandemic era.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is expected to open to $6.6 million to $6.8 million for the four days despite an A CinemaScore from audiences and glowing reviews. At the international box office, the biopic collected a very modest $2.6 million from its first 31 international markets.
Paramount’s star-packed Babylon, which received a C+ CinemaScore, is looking like a major disappointment unless it rebounds quickly. Damien Chazelle’s period Hollywood movie, which like Avatar 2, runs north of three hours, is projecting a four-day opening of just $4.9 million. The movie, costing at least $80 million to make before marketing, is the first miss of the year for Paramount.
At the specialty box office, The Whale expanded into a total of 603 cinemas over Christmas. The A24 film is projected to earn roughly $1.5 million for the four-day weekend for a domestic total of $3.1 million.
Among new offerings, Sarah Polley’s acclaimed Women Talking opened Friday in eight theaters. The MGM and UAR film, like numerous other titles appealing to adults, opened to an estimated $56,000 for a location average in the $7,000 range.
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