‘Avatar 2’ Passes $550 Million Domestic, Leads Newcomers at MLK Box Office

Universal’s “M3GAN” and “Puss in Boots 2” also show strong legs in holiday weekend

"Avatar: The Way of Water" (Credit: Disney/Twentieth Century)

While still not at pre-pandemic levels, the box office is performing stronger than it did last year on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, led of course by Disney/20th Century’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” as it passes $550 million domestic.

After earning $7 million on its fifth Friday, industry estimates project a three-day total of around $30 million and an extended four-day total of around $36 million, which would bring its domestic total to $568 million. The four-day total is just a 25% drop from the Friday–Monday period last weekend, and if overseas weekend total drops can stay below 30%, “Avatar 2” should have enough to pass the $1.91 billion global total of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Even if it doesn’t pass that mark on Monday, it will do so sometime this coming week.

Below “Avatar 2,” Universal is seeing strong holdover totals with Blumhouse/Atomic Monster’s “M3GAN” and DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” “M3GAN” earned $7.2 million on its second Friday and is estimated for a three-day weekend total of $17.5 million. That’s a 42% drop from the film’s $30.4 million opening, a sign that strong word-of-mouth is helping carry “M3GAN” in the same way horror hits like Paramount’s “Smile” did last year. “M3GAN” is projected for a $20 million four-day total and a $59 million cume after two weekends.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is showing even more impressive legs in its fourth weekend, as its incredibly strong word-of-mouth and support from families on this holiday weekend has it making a projected $12.4 million three-day and $16 million four-day weekend total. The film is estimated to finish the weekend with a $109 million cume as it passes the $97 million domestic and $250 million global total of 2022 DreamWorks animated film “The Bad Guys.”

A trio of new releases also hit the box office this weekend, led by Sony/Columbia’s “A Man Called Otto,” a remake of the Swedish Oscar-nominated film “A Man Called Ove.” The Tom Hanks-starring film made $6.2 million from two weeks of limited release and is projected by Sony for an $11.7 million three-day/$14 million four-day wide opening from 3,802 locations, hitting the upper end of independent projections.

Reviews for “A Man Called Otto” were mildly positive at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences have highly recommended the film with a 97% audience score and 5/5 on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak.

Lionsgate also released the action film “Plane” starring Gerard Butler and “Luke Cage” star Mike Colter, earning $3.5 million from 3,023 theaters on Friday as it is estimated to earn a $10 million three-day/$11 million four-day opening.

Prior to the weekend, Lionsgate said it was aiming for a $7-10 million four-day opening for “Plane,” which it acquired distribution rights for in North America, Latin America, India and the U.K.. The film will clear that bar as it enjoys solid reviews with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 73% critics and 95% audience to go with a B+ on CinemaScore.

Outside the top 5 is Warner Bros.’ “House Party,” a remake of Reginald Hudlin’s 1990 comedy that was greenlit as an HBO Max exclusive film but is receiving a theatrical release in 1,400 theaters following the Warner Bros. Discovery merger. The film earned $1.4 million on Friday and is projected for a $4-5 million four-day opening weekend. The film will be released for premium on-demand after three weekends in theaters and hit HBO Max after 45 days in theaters.