Film Discussion

US Box Office Report: 06/01/23 – 08/01/23

Avatar’s wave of wads won’t be washed, M3GAN makes money like it’s child’s play, and Other Box Office News.

Blah blah blah, Avatar: The Way of Water is still #1, blah blah, 33% drop in fourth weekend, blah blah, $45 million for three-day, blah blah, $1.7 billion worldwide, blah blah, now the seventh-highest grossing film of all-time, blah blah, *fart noises*.  There, we addressed Avatar.  Now let’s talk about something else for once.

Late last year, Universal revealed that the Akela Cooper, writer of notable 2021 batshit camp-horror Malignant, had re-teamed with James Wan (though the latter’s only in a producer capacity) to try and recapture that lightning in a bottle with the evil child’s toy standby.  By the time that the titular M3GAN had started dancing aggressively in front of what one can presume is a soon-to-be victim, the film’s status as one of those things everyone memes with an awkward insincerity because nobody can just admit that deliberate camp is fucking aces was assured.

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Then teenagers on TikTok caught on to the thing, Universal allegedly pulled an emergency hacksaw out to get the film down to a PG-13, and M3GAN became one of the rare Internet meme-fests to actually translate that online activity to cash money!  Unlike with Morbius, bragging about M3GAN’s multitude of M3g-billions is no joke!  Second-place with $30.2 million, which is obviously a full 2.5x the movie’s Blumhouse budget ($12 million), and the biggest opening for an original horror movie since the pandemic kicked off.  No Snakes on a Plane, in other words, not least because it’s apparently also a genuinely good film outside of The Meme.

But it’s not only dancing dolls raking in the dough during what’s supposed to be the dead-zone weekend we use as a baseline for how bad things can get in a year!  Last weekend, primarily as a result of having to squeeze two weeks’ worth of Avatar news into my limited column inches – GOD, CAMERON, SAVE SOME TEXT FOR THE REST OF US! – I completely skipped over the very last-second release of A Man Called Otto.  …you know?  The one where Tom Hanks is a grump and already my suspension of disbelief is stretched well past breaking point.

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Well, anyway, this pleasant-enough little dramedy, pitching its tent on the outskirts of Awards Season hoping (and likely) to get a look in purely cos so many other more obvious picks this year have flamed out spectacularly, got its start last weekend in four theatres and did pretty decent for itself: $56,257, a PTA of $14,064.  Cannily hoping to take advantage of, again, the dead-zone and every other semi-adult drama doing the Moe Syzslak walk, Sony sent Otto Wide this weekend and, again, did pretty decent for itself: $4.2 million from 637 screens and fourth place.

Speaking of Awards Season adult dramas being immediately sent to the reject pile, here was where I had reserved a spot for Women Talking’s Wide Release.  Right up until Friday, it’d been listed on every industry site that Sarah Polley’s great but heavy ensemble drama was going Wide after a mediocre run in Limited over the holidays.  Then Friday came and… 29 screens.  It continued to not do great; $142,769 for a PTA of $4,923.  That’s that, I guess.

Yep, here’s your problem.  Someone set this Full List to “EVIL”.

US Box Office Results: Friday 6th January 2023 – Sunday 8th January 2023

1] Avatar: The Way of Water

$45,000,000 / $516,789,379

The next Avatar will apparently feature a tribe of evil Na’vi who are representative of fire known a-HANG ON A MINUTE!  Whaddya think you’re playing at, Cameron?!  It wasn’t enough for you to make me have to constantly clarify which infinitely-superior Avatar I’m talking about, now you’re gonna try and pull a full kill-and-replace on it too!?  I’M ONTO YOU!

2] M3GAN

$30,200,000 / NEW

Look, I may not get around to seeing this for at least a few months or until Where’s the Jump? can do their thing to it (whichever comes first), but I want it on record that I am very much here for the return of campy-ass horror to cinemas.  Let’s have some fun with these, hey guys?  Arthouse horror has its place, but I think we can all agree that there’ve been enough straightlaced horrors in both scenes about trauma for a while.  If y’all can also make that FUCKING BONKERS-looking Evil Dead Rise a hit whilst you’re at it, that’d be swell!

3] Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

$13,121,000 / $87,706,835

About to cross its $90 million budget domestically and is cresting $200 mil worldwide, so not too shabby a run for a movie whose release plan just makes no damn sense to me.  I get it, Universal, the Mario movie is the shinier toy more likely to make the coin jingle sound effect loop so hard and so fast that it crashes.  But you could’ve at least tried standardising and properly promoting the mid-budget DreamWorks movie on your slate too, y’know?  I thought you studios liked making all the money with all the films?

4] A Man Called Otto

$4,200,000 / $4,285,480

It actually took me until watching the trailer before Glass Onion to realise this was a remake of the 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove (itself an adaptation of a Swedish book from 2012) which was… fine, I guess?  I really don’t understand the reason for this, besides Joe Public still acting like you’ve farted in their face when asking if they’d like to watch a film with *gags* subtitles.  Mind, given that this is still my Dad’s biggest hang-up with watching The Raid 2, despite his really enjoying Gangs of London AND complaining about the lip-sync on the English dub of Squid Game, maybe that is reason enough.  I hope it’s good.

5] Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

$3,398,000 / $445,437,616

Coming to Disney+ on the 1st of February.  On the one hand, yay for accessibility for those who can’t or don’t want to risk – since, reminder, pandemic’s still raging; mask up, people – going to the cinema.  (Also, it marks a semi-intentional kick-off to Black History Month.)  On the other hand, maybe we should stop training audiences to see all cinema movies as merely more content for the streaming mill?  Might help stem the ill health of the Box Office at large if you stop subliminally telling viewers that the streaming window is collapsing ever quicker?  Plus, y’know, sell some Blu-rays/DVDs?  I heard people still buy those, the weirdos.

6] Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody

$2,401,000 / $19,699,722

I promised myself after Bohemian Rhapsody stank up the joint on these BORs for ages that I wouldn’t resort to low-hanging Walk Hard references for the commentary slots on music biopics.  The Lord is testing me real hard here, yes, she is.

7] The Whale

$1,541,201 / $8,582,731

Not that it would’ve done much better had A24 taken my advice, but I can’t help but feel like they waited a little too late to put The Whale out on proper non-arthouse release.  There’s letting buzz build up to maximise audience interest, with festival raves and press junkets and interviews and GQ viral vids and all that, and then there’s having it go on for so long that I thought this movie had already released three times by the point it actually opened in the US.  And there’s still a month to go in the UK!  (Same deal with Women Talking.)  Please, God, shorten either Festival Season or Awards Season.  Preferably both.

8] Babylon

$1,430,000 / $13,523,894

Much like the actors listed in her piece, Jenn Reid deserves a comeback here at Set the Tape!  Her first piece in a while is all about the 90s teen stars she feels should get a new act in their careers!

9] Violent Night

$741,000 / $49,421,735

I, for one, am shocked that the Xmas-themed movie would plummet over 65% the minute that Xmas holidays wrap up.  Truly, an unforeseeable set of events.

10] The Menu

$713,000 / $37,655,950

The Menu is already on Disney+.  Copy-paste what I said in the Wakanda Forever box here and double-underline it since it’s a thousand times worse for adult dramas, likely a major reason for their underperformance post-pandemic.

Dropped out: The Fabelmans, Strange World

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