January 31, 2023

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Box office: ‘M3GAN’ movie beats expectations, ‘Avatar 2’ is at No.1

3 min read

Step forward, Jamie Lee Curtis and Neve Campbell. There is a new scream queen in town.

Universal and Blumhouse’s creepy puppet thriller “M3GAN” — short for Model 3 Generative Android — made a killing in its opening weekend, collecting an expected $30.2 million from 3,509 theaters in North America. Internationally, the film has grossed $14.8 million to date, taking its global tally to $45 million.

Heading into the weekend, the PG-13 film was projected to open between $17 million and $20 million in North America, but fantastic talk and audiences’ continued love of scares are key to significantly surpassing expectations. That’s a killer start for a $12 million budget film.

“Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster delivered an incredible film. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s thrilling,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “Word of mouth is through the roof.”

And the turnout for “M3GAN” is particularly encouraging for Hollywood and theater owners as January tends to be a box office dead zone. “M3GAN” is the first movie in more than a decade to top $30 million in the first week of the new year, after 2012’s “The Devil Inside” reached $33.7 million.

It is not surprising that this doll delivered at the box office. Within weeks of his debut, M3GAN became a viral internet sensation, thanks to his killer choreography and overall chaotic energy. Universal and Blumhouse successfully capitalized on the Internet boom with clever marketing tactics A troupe of dancing puppets At movie premieres and sporting events.

“M3GAN,” directed by Gerard Johnstone, centers on a roboticist (Allison Williams) who creates a realistic AI creation programmed to be the perfect companion for his recently orphaned niece (Violet McGraw).

“Horror films show no slowdown at the box office,” David A. said Gross, who runs movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research “Young moviegoers want to see them with their friends, on the big screen, for maximum thrill.”

However impressive, ticket sales for “M3GAN” were not enough to dethrone James Cameron’s enduring blockbuster sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which claimed the No. 1 spot on the domestic box office chart for four consecutive weeks. Disney and the 20th century sci-fi epic, added a strong $45 million from 4,340 theaters, a minuscule 33% drop from last weekend. So far, “Avatar 2” has grossed $516 million in North America and $1.1 billion internationally. With $1.708 billion worldwide, it currently stands as the seventh biggest film in history.

“Between the opening of ‘M3GAN’ and the sensational fourth weekend of ‘Avatar 2,’ it’s been a solid start to the year,” adds Gross. “Is it too early to declare 2023 a complete and total success?”

With the combined wattage of “The Way of Water” and “M3GAN”, the movie industry is starting 2023 with a reason to cheer. But it is far from fully recovering to pre-pandemic levels. The box office in 2022 was about 30% lower than in 2019, partly because studios released fewer films and partly because moviegoing habits changed during COVID. Yet the next 12 months can certainly be expected to be even stronger than the last 24, with blockbuster-anticipators such as “Mission: Impossible 7”, “Fast X” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” on the schedule with potential breakouts like Greta Gerwig’s neon-coated “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s war drama “Oppenheimer”.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, holdovers from 2022 rounded out the top five spots. Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” an animated sequel from the “Shrek” universe, landed in third place with $12.4 million from 3,919 venues. Three weeks after its release, the family-friendly “Puss in Boots 2” has grossed $87 million in North America and $197 million worldwide. It carries a $90 million price tag.

Sony’s “A Man Called Auto,” a heartwarming drama about Tom Hanks as a widower, took the No. 4 spot with $4.2 million from just 637 theaters. The studio plans to expand the film nationwide over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Disney and Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” finished fifth, bringing in $3.3 million in its ninth weekend in theaters. To date, the superhero sequel has grossed $445 million domestically.

At the specialty box office, A24’s award hopeful “The Whale” is one of the rare indie titles that is actually getting audiences into theaters. The movie, starring Brendan Fraser as an obese college professor, added $1.5 million from 835 screens over the weekend, making it the strongest hold on the top 10. After a few weeks in limited release, “The Whale” grossed $8.58 million.

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