December 25, 2022

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 12.25.2022


OPENINGS:  The weekend’s awful weather is being given the blame for a subpar Christmas holiday box office, but the fact remains that audiences appeared unenthused (or worse) about the new offerings.  PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH (DreamWorks Animation/Universal) fared best, with $11.4M for the 3-day weekend, $17.8M with Monday, and $24.6M since its Wednesday opening.  That’s about half of the $47M that last year’s Sing 2 earned between its Wednesday pre-Christmas start and the following Monday, suggesting that Last Wish may end up around $85M in the US, an underwhelming result.  The film had previously opened in some overseas markets, and after a $16.5M weekend in 53, its international total is $32.5M.

It’s always a bad sign when studios remind everyone of their co-financiers, and WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBOY (Black Label/TriStar/Sony) was soft with $5.3M for the weekend ($8M with Monday), and even that studio estimate assumes a huge Christmas Day bounce.  It was lighter still overseas, with $2.6M in 31 territories.  Costs have been reported at $45M before marketing, so I Wanna Dance has a tough road ahead.

The last mega-flop of 2022 is BABYLON (Paramount), which reportedly cost $80M+ to produce, which means well into nine figures with marketing, and managed a woeful $3.5M for the weekend ($5.3M with Monday).  Low audience polls suggest little chance of the film catching on with mainstream crowds.  Paramount is holding international release for Oscar nomination season in January, hoping for the best.

THE WHALE (A24) expanded to low-wide release at 603 theatres, and reported $900K for the weekend ($1.3M with Monday).  The 3-day $1500 per-theater average is below the $2300 The Banshees of Inisherin averaged when it widened to 895 theaters.

HOLDOVERS:  Weather aside, it’s clear that AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (20th/Disney) won’t duplicate the remarkable trajectory of its predecessor, which declined a microscopic 2% in its 2nd weekend.  Way of Water is behaving more like Rogue One (which also had Christmas on its 2nd Sunday), and was down 58% to $56M over the 3-day weekend, $82M with Monday.  If it continues to follow the Rogue One path, its US total would be around $465M in the US, which would make it #2 for the year domestically, behind Top Gun: Maverick‘s $718.7M.  However, Way of Water, like the original Avatar, is weighted much more toward international ticket sales, and it already has $601.7M overseas after a $168.6M weekend in 52 markets.  (Maverick‘s international total was $770M after 7 months of release.)  So Way of Water has a good chance of becoming the year’s #1 title worldwide with around $1.6B to Maverick‘s $1.49B.  However, it’s worth noting that overseas ticket sales are worth less to studios than those sold in the US, because the studios retain 10-15% less of each dollar (and below that in China).  Not to mention that Way of Water cost about $200M more to produce than Maverick did.

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (Marvel/Disney) dropped 44% to $3M in its 7th weekend ($4.7M with Monday), on its way to $440M in the US.  Similar to the first Black Panther, it’s underperforming internationally with $373.8M after a $2.2M weekend in 50 markets.

VIOLENT NIGHT (Universal, also on VOD) lost 38% to $3.1M in its 4th weekend ($4.2M with Monday) and should pass $50M before it’s done.  It also has $20.2M overseas.

LIMITED RELEASE:  CORSAGE (IFC) launched in 2 arthouses with an OK $16K 3-day weekend per-theater average.  LIVING (Sony Classics) averaged $7100 at 3.  WOMEN TALKING (UA/MGM/Amazon) averaged a quiet $5K at 8.

NEXT WEEKEND:  There are no wide releases scheduled for the holiday week, but the last awards hopefuls to hit Academy deadlines will be BROKER (Neon) and A MAN CALLED OTTO (Columbia/Sony).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."