That Time the Box Office Got Reincarnated as a Slime whilst all the money went Missing, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
The big news out of this weekend – and, frankly, thank God that we got some big-ass news cos I’m worried I’ll get fired if I spend the whole of this intro writing about The 1975 gig I was at on Friday – is that Avatar: The Way of Water has joined its big brother in the $2 billion worldwide club. Whilst it is coming more down-to-earth in the US than the original did at this point in its run, a 39.1% drop this weekend which is the biggest to date (excluding the Xmas weekend 52.8% that had mitigating circumstances), overseas the thing continues to run and run and run like a free-range gazelle! For obvious instance, in China, Cameron’s latest eternal money-spinner, after having a stunted opening due to major COVID spikes that first weekend, is now on the verge of having quadrupled its $56 million opening, with a total (at time of writing) just shy of a quarter-billion. And that’s arguably not even the most noteworthy performance; just take a look at third-place France, where Way of Water is still breaking records or keeping pace with its predecessor’s own record-breaking performance, all whilst banking (at time of writing) nearly $125 million in the territory.
This machine just will not be stopped, at least until some decent competition finally arrives, and only complete morons deliberately attempting to rewrite reality via projection so intense that you can point them at a wall and display PowerPoints with their forehead will claim otherwise. On an unrelated note, don’t go on Film TikTok.
Anywho, non-Avatar news! In The Before Times of August 2018, Timur Bekmambetov’s ScreenLife-centric production company put out Searching, a missing person thriller set entirely on a laptop screen that was really good until it very suddenly and firmly wasn’t. It was a surprise financial hit, not exactly hard given that it supposedly cost just $800,000 to make but $75 million for a late-August gimmick flick is still mighty impressive, so you’d think that everyone involved (and especially distributor Screen Gems) would’ve rushed several more of those straight out the door, right? Welp, in January of 2023, nearly five years later, Missing has come along and… honestly done way better I would’ve guessed. Not enough to break into the same Top 3 we’ve had all year so far, but its $9.3 million opening in fourth is also way more than Searching made in any one of its weekends, albeit with the caveat that Missing opened on nearly treble the screens Searching did. Still shocked it took them this long to make even one more of this kind of movie, but maybe it needs half-decade breaks to stay fresh.
As for the rest: another week, another anime movie event presented by Crunchyroll. This one is That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime which, firstly brilliant title 10/10 no notes, is an isekai about a salaryman who gets murdered and, well, clue’s in the name. Perhaps it’s a little too weeb-y a premise for Joe Normie, though, as it’s one of the weakest-performing anime movies of our current wave – or maybe Crunchyroll have just been running this trend into the ground like Activision did Guitar Hero – with a mere $1.4 million for eighth place. And on the subject of total flameouts, this Awards Season’s biggest whipping child, Florian Zellner’s much-maligned The Son, got the “yeah, we know this one is a piece of shit that ain’t getting any nominations, dump its proper release in the dead of January” treatment; $239,855 from 554 theatres, a PTA of $432.
Big ups to all youse who found this Full List via Altavista.
US Box Office Results: Friday 20th January 2023 – Sunday 22nd January 2023
1] Avatar: The Way of Water
$20,000,000 / $598,276,353
So, that’s three times James Cameron has directed a $2 billion-grossing movie. The man really is in a league of his own… specifically, a league below Zoe Saldaña, who has starred in four $2 billion-grossing movies! She’s the real key to success! I look forward to this upcoming Titanic restoration which includes her being composited into the corner of every single shot to make Cameron’s desire for cracking the first $3 billion film a certainty! As the saying goes: you want to make a $2 billion movie, you gotta cast Zoe Saldaña in a thankless role which wastes her talents!
2] Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
$11,500,000 / $126,460,470
You wanna talk about legs, though. The Last Wish has officially reached a domestic total 10x that of its opening weekend. Maybe what ol’ Jimmy boy needs to do to make a $4 billion movie is direct a Puss in Boots sequel with Zoe Saldaña playing a random side-character! Yes! Yes! We’re onto something here, Universal! You can have that for free!
$9,800,000 / $73,287,510
Kelechi Ehenulo has informed me that M3GAN isn’t actually all that jumpy after all, so guess I gotta find time to squeeze a viewing of this in whilst it’s still in theatres. That or we just start dropping M3GAN into all movies past, present and future. Just saying, TÁR might’ve grabbed me more if we replaced Cate Blanchett with a serial killer TikTok-dancing doll.
$9,300,000 / NEW
Honestly don’t think I have ever had my feelings on a movie sour cos of the ending quite as strongly as when the last 20 minutes of Searching kicked in. So bad that, even though I was loving almost everything up to the point when it Thelma & Louise-s itself off a cliff, I have never once felt like going back to the film in the years since as a result. Maybe I should, I am literally an entirely different person that I was in 2018.
5] A Man Called Otto
$9,000,000 / $35,346,249
Sweet! Misses the spiky prickliness of the Swedish original, instead coating everything in excessive amounts of Marc Forster glurge, but it’s not ineffective. I may have checked my watch way more than is acceptable for a two-hour movie, but I also had genuine semi-earned tears by the end so whaddya gonna do.
$5,250,000 / $19,457,616
Did not go to the pre-release screening despite stating I would in last week’s BOR because I woke up that particular morning and simply couldn’t be arsed, nor could I be arsed to change the text in the write-up. …look, sometimes you wake up not feeling arsed, don’t judge me.
7] House Party
$1,775,000 / $7,185,508
For a party worth attending, Babylon is buck-fucking-wild and deserves to be seen on the big screen whilst you still have the chance. If you won’t take my word for it, take Dave Bond’s!
8] That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond
$1,459,515 / NEW
Bond, I heard you say? Well, that gives me the perfect excuse to pimp Set the Tape founder and alumni A.J. Black’s new book about the films of Sean Connery! Lee Thacker’s given it a proper review, which he can do since A.J.’s not been involved directly with the site in almost four years and therefore couldn’t retaliate if Lee’s review was bad (though it isn’t)!
9] The Whale
$1,281,248 / $13,191,971
Will do a proper rundown closer to the time – i.e. when The Whale actually opens in the UK – but I gotta say, those BAFTA nominations? Not terrible, for the most part! Would like somebody to explain to me why Best Film is still only five slots yet nearly everything else has six, mind.
10] Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
$1,255,200 / $451,735,952
Yes, I did unleash a guttural, primal, queer shriek when Charli XCX crashed through the stage door to play “Vroom Vroom” at The 1975, introduced by her yelling “WHERE MY FUCKING GAYS AT?!” Yes, that was matched barely 20 minutes later when The 1975 pulled out “Menswear” for the first time on-tour. Yes, I am still living inside those moments rather than meaningfully engaging with my responsibilities.
Dropped out: Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Waltair Veerayya
Callie Petch would take their chances on ballroom dances.