It’s Oscar Nominations Bump Time, and Other Box Office News.
Note: this article originally ran on Set the Tape (link).
As is usually the case over the last weekend of January, the big story has nothing to do with the new releases since they’re the real no-hoper dregs of any studio’s schedule. That said, they are all part of the second-biggest news story of the weekend which is the fact that, for only the second time since we came back from the pandemic – which isn’t over, as I must repeatedly clarify, but everyone else now marks things as “post-pandemic” so here we are – the entire Top 15 managed to cross $1 million for a weekend. I recognise that doesn’t sound like a massive achievement, but you gotta understand we’ve had literal months where we can’t even get a Top 8 to clear $1 million. Strong holds from all the legacy titles are largely responsible, but the newbies pulled their weight too so let’s run through those and salute their resilience in the face of Avatar’s seventh week at #1! Top of the pile, and the zero-qualifiers-needed winner, was record-smashing Indian actioner Pathaan. If we were counting all five of the flick’s opening days, rather than just the three-day cos two-thirds of a week is not a week-end, then Pathaan would actually be taking the chart’s bronze medal with $8.5 million. Still, the three-day of $5.9 million was more than enough for fifth place and it sports an astonishing-for-this-time-of-year $8,557 PTA from its 695 screens.
Next on the docket, and outperforming purely by attaining a “C-” Cinemascore rather than the “F” folks were expecting, was Brandon Cronenberg’s extreme horror Infinity Pool. $2.7 million for eighth place isn’t blowing any doors off but 1] it’s a Cronenberg feature, 2] it’s a NEON release which are normally bungled in some way so giving a proper straightforward wide release and making the max return on investment possible for a film like this is a genuine win, and 3] that’s a ticket sold for every person who is strangely loud about Mia Goth online. Also, crucially, that’s more than Christian thriller Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist managed to make; $2.3 million for ninth place. Dancing around on the outskirts of the proper list, and hopefully dispelling any notions of her being in some kind of sophomore slump, is Trafalgar Releasing’s one night only event screening of Billie Eilish: Live at The O2 which came this close to cracking the Top 10 with $1.29 million from 600 screens. Hot on her heels was Hidden Empire Film Group’s debut release, a Black-centric horror called Fear, which made $1.28 million from 974 screens. I told you we weren’t dealing with headline grabbers, this week.
No, the headline story, and the crucial third wheel propping up that fifteen $1 million movies statistic, are the Oscar nominations! They certainly were some Oscar nominations, right, folks? Rather than litigate their merits, we here on the BOR beat are far more interested in how the nominations do or don’t affect the financials of those films still in or put back into theatres. As has often been the case of my doing this, the results are a real mixed bag. In terms of those who came out smelling like roses, one could argue it’s helped Avatar some given that a 22% drop that still stays comfortably on eight-figures in a seventh weekend, even one with no competition, is some major “this thing’s gonna outlive us all” shit. Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, which has continually struggled with getting out of first-gear, jumped up to 707 screens and posted its best weekend to date, the last of the $1 million club ($1,013,000 to be precise) and a PTA of $1,432. And, with a surprise Best Actor for Bill Nighy nomination in their pocket, Sony Pictures chose to finally bring Living to more than the same snooty arthouse patrons, leaping to 644 theatres from 49 the previous weekend and scoring $585,773, a PTA of $909, plus a $1 mil domestic total in the process.
Then there were the losers. No matter how much cinemas try, and no matter how many pre-recorded introductions by the man himself guilting people into seeing films in the cinema more often are threatened, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans just isn’t catching on with folks. Universal added another 1,000 theatres in hopes of a late resurgence but to no avail; $760,000 from 1,962 screens for a woeful $387 PTA. The Banshees of Inisherin and TÁR also figured to try their luck on nationwide stages again, 1200 for Banshees and 500 for TÁR, and both were once again soundly rejected with sub-$325 PTAs. Lastly, A24 figured to bring Everything Everywhere All at Once back for one last encore at 1,400 theatres that wasn’t exactly till-enflaming, $1,014,578 for a PTA of $724, but did properly get the film’s domestic total over $70 million at last so I’m gonna call this a win regardless.
Incredibly, Paramount did not try to re-re-re-release Top Gun: Maverick one more time. They’re learning!
Alright, that’s enough thinky words. Bring on the Full List!
US Box Office Results: Friday 27th January 2023 – Sunday 29th January 2023
1] Avatar: The Way of Water
$15,700,000 / $620,580,771
For those of you who may be curious, and with Triangle of Sadness still to see at time of writing, here’s my Best Picture preference ranking. Everything Everywhere >>> Women Talking > Banshess >> Fabelmans > Top Gun >> All Quiet on the Western Front >> Elvis >>> TÁR >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Avatar.
2] Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
$10,621,000 / $140,835,910
I have friends – friends I hate and who suck and are stupid and probably smell and I’m not jealous of at all SHUT UP – who’ve seen The Last Wish and claim that it’s one of the very best films of 2022. I really hope they’re right, even if I’m still guarded as the UK release continues slowly crawling closer. Though I’m a major Shrek agnostic, it’s not like DreamWorks don’t have previous when it comes to unexpectedly incredible sequels that end up one of the best films of that particular year *coughcoughKungFuPanda2cough*.
3] A Man Called Otto
$6,751,000 / $46,053,864
Do you think that the people in charge of PR at Warner Bros. get mandated and paid-for weekly therapy sessions given all the shit they have to deal with at a studio on constant raging fire? Asking for a friend.
$6,371,000 / $82,274,725
Shaun Rockwood raced through the Dead Space remake that was released last week and, thank the Marker, it’s actually great! Can’t wait to see how EA fucks up whatever Dead Space does next!
$5,947,369 / $8,548,444 / NEW
Didn’t pimp this last week cos I didn’t have to stretch to fill the word count, but Eureka! put out (what they claim is) the first UK home media release of underappreciated mid-80s Michelle Yeoh Hong Kong action classic Royal Warriors and it RUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEESSSSS!!! Get it in your life!
$5,675,000 / $17,569,417
R.I.P. to actress Annie Wersching who passed away at the far too young age of 45 from cancer. Since it’s currently all over TV, people are spotlighting her heart-wrenching work as Tess on the original game version of The Last of Us. But I’ll always remember her as Renee Walker from Days 7 and 8 of 24. A great performer robbed of potential future greatness. Fuck cancer.
$3,825,000 / $25,374,765
I WILL GET TO THIS, MAYBE! I AM SURPRISINGLY BUSY! I just want to have three clear days where I can sit and play CAT GAME CAT GAME CAT GAME, but that’s just not happening!
8] Infinity Pool
$2,725,000 / NEW
In Brandon Cronenberg-related matters: lol, I can’t believe the Andrea Riseborough astroturfing campaign actually worked!
9] Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist
$2,362,077 / $2,972,651 / NEW
We’ve been experimenting a bit with content this month at Set the Tape to cover for January being a barren wasteland of shite happening. Hope you’ve been enjoying some of the results! For example, this listicle by Amy Walker on famous historical figures we could be making biopics about instead of Amy Winehouse! She didn’t include that last bit, but I just need to keep raising awareness about the fact that this is a thing which is happening and it’s not too late to stop it.
10] The Wandering Earth II
$1,355,000 / $3,000,000 / NEW
Getting conflicting reports on this one. Box Office Mojo has the prequel to China’s biggest film of all-time doing an already-stunning-on-its-own $1.35 million for the weekend; a PTA of $9,542 from just 142 screens. The Numbers, however, says that the film opened on the Thursday and has added the jaw-dropping $1.645 million it made on that day’s special screenings to the overall weekend total. I’ve decided to split the difference and use BOM’s for the three-day and Num’s for the overall domestic so far. Either way, spectacular work by Wandering Earth.
Dropped out: House Party, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Whale
Callie Petch will never make it right if you don’t want them round.