20th Century Studios/Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water made $14.3 million yesterday at 4,202 theaters, ranking it as the second best Wednesday of 2022 after Top Gun: Maverick‘s $14.8M on June 1. Avatar 2‘s first Wednesday also outstripped that of Minions: The Rise of Gru ($13.5M, July 6) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s first and second Wednesdays ($8.1M on November 16 and $10M on November 23).
Imax drove 14.6% of Avatar 2‘s Wednesday, or $2.1M.
What’s interesting here is that from Sunday through midweek, Avatar 2 is playing like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; yesterday was not that far from the Lucasfilm prequel’s $14.96M Wednesday in December 2016. That said, Avatar: The Way of Water at $183M through six days is pacing 11% behind Rogue One in its domestic running total. Avatar 2 hopes to make $90M-$95M in its second four-day weekend, which has Christmas falling on Sunday.
Universal also debuted DreamWorks Animation’s sequel Puss in Boots: The Last Wish to $3.2M at 4,093 theaters, in second place for the day. There weren’t any Tuesday previews, so consider this run before Christmas to essentially be previews.
The movie, directed by Joel Crawford and co-directed by Januel Mercado, received an A CinemaScore, a notch up from the A- of the first 2011 movie which opened over the final weekend of October. That’s typically a death zone at the box office, but that first Puss in Boots opened to a robust $34M. While Puss in Boots 2 is under the first pre-Christmas Wednesday opening of Sing 2, which did $8.1M before a five-day total of $39.6M in December 2021, realize we’re still in a corridor where audiences’ moviegoing is being sidelined by holiday activities. All of this changes on Christmas Day Sunday for the better.
Universal is looking at a long run here for Puss in Boots 2. The studio rode out Sing 2 all the way to the first weekend of April in north of 2,000 theaters. Throughout every weekend in March, Sing 2 was grossing more than $1M every weekend late in its run. Impressive. Final domestic was $162.8M.
Third place on Wednesday belonged to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with $902,000 for a running total of $421.7M at 3,200 theaters in the midst of its Week 6.
Fourth was Universal’s Violent Night at 3,528 theaters with an estimated $839K and a running total in the middle of Week 3 of $37.6M.
Fifth saw A24’s wide expansion of The Whale from six theaters to 603. The movie, which is rebounding Brendan Fraser’s career and has The Mummy actor as an awards-season Best Actor frontrunner, did $682,500 for a running total in its 13th day of $1.28M.
Babylon starts previews today at 3 p.m., and will hopefully break double-digit millions over three days off 60% fresh Rotten Tomatoes reviews. There’s also TriStar/Black Label’s Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which begins previews at 2 p.m. today with an eye on $12M through four days. Critics gave the movie 41% rotten.