A strong box office weekend, but Oscar nominations cannot be appreciated

“Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots” remained at the top, with third place going to the Oscar-winning “A Man Called Otto.”

Several Oscar-nominated films opened, expanded or returned without much impact at the box office this weekend. Best Picture Oscar-nominated “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) ranked #1 for its seventh weekend (and likely its last; it was set to replace M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” next weekend). It’s slipped a bit in the last two weeks, but it should still edge out other best-picture contender Top Gun: Maverick as the biggest domestic release of 2022. James Cameron’s film grossed $620 million domestically and $2.117 billion worldwide.

The Best Animated Feature nominee Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal) was No. 2, but it was a consistently strong performance. At number 3 was the Academy ignored and critically ridiculed “A Man Called Otto” (Sony). With $6,750,000 million in 3,957 theaters, it is the dominant film for older audiences despite its absence from the race.

Excluding “Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots,” the other 11 nominated films playing this weekend totaled just over $6 million across over 10,000 screens — just over 8 percent of the 71 million total U.S. dollar. This weekend has doubled over the past year, with a year-to-date total of $579 million, up 53 percent year-on-year. It’s 88 percent from 2020 (although that was Super Bowl Sunday, always a low point). Our four-week rolling comparison to three years ago is 68 percent, the fourth straight week of an improved number.

The top three films among the Oscar-nominated films each grossed just over $1 million. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24), now in its 45th week and on VOD since June, returned for a total of $71 million across 1,400 theaters. The Whale (A24) has expanded to 1,721 theaters and now retails for just under $15 million.

Women Talking (United Artists) expanded to 707 theaters and Sarah Polley’s Best Picture nomination reached $2.4 million in what was possibly her best weekend. It’s also a sign of a changing professional world: her 2006 drama Away from Her opened in mid-year (and received nominations for Best Actress for Julie Christie and Best Screenplay for Polley). It never played more than 275 theaters at once and grossed $4.6 million – over $7 million at today’s ticket prices.

Best Actor nominee “Living” (Sony Pictures Classics) grossed $586,000 in 644 theaters. As with most nominees playing broad this week, that’s an average per theater of less than $1,000. Rapid expansion is the new normal, and it makes sense to piggyback the attention of awards with hopes of longer gameplay. At just over $1 million in six weeks, this acclaimed film reflects the challenges when its adult audience has still not returned and the traditional slower introduction no longer makes sense.

The Fabelmans (Universal), now on PVOD, had its widest run this weekend (1,962 theaters) grossing $760,000. That puts the Oscar-winning actor at $16 million with a PTA of $387 (a caveat: this is how many of these films got limited releases in some theaters). About 10 theaters brought back “To Leslie” (Momentum) with its surprise Best Actress nomination. Also on VOD, sources say it grossed around $4,000 in total, bringing its capped box office gross to $31,000.

All of these titles have (unreported) VOD earnings, reflecting the increased interest of the nominees – but for cinemas the bonanza has dwindled sharply in recent years.

TO LESLIE, Andrea Riseborough, 2022. © Momentum Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“For Leslie”

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Close (A24), a Best International Picture nominee, opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for $68,000 or $17,000 per screen. The Belgian film, boosted by overall strong reviews and A24’s ability to maximize opening weekends, scores at the top end of subtitled releases. It will be gradually expanded.

Outside of the Oscars, a variety of independent company releases occupied four spots in the top 10. Best among them was India’s Pathaan (Yash Raj) at No. 5 with nearly $6 million in 694 theaters. Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool (Neon), fresh from Sundance, was 8th at $2,725,000. Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist (Fathom) was ninth at $2,362,000, and China’s blockbuster “The Wandering Earth II” (Well Go) took 10th place with $1,355,000.

Mia Hansen-Love’s One Fine Morning (Sony Pictures Classics) also opened to even better reviews. It grossed $14,282 in three theaters, matching what many excellent subtitled films have achieved over the past year.

Adding other new additions: “Fear” (Hidden Empire) at $1,281,000, “Maybe I Do” (Vertical) at $562,000 and “Billie Eilish: Live at the O2” (Trafalag) with a one-time showing on Friday for $1.3 million and that’s over $16 million for the broadest definition of trade titles.

The Top 10

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) week 7; Last weekend #1

$15,700,000 (-22%) in 3,600 (-190) theaters; PTA (average per theater): $4,361; Cumulative: $620,581,000

2. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal) Week 6; Last Weekend #2; also on PVOD

$10,620,000 (-10%) in 3,452 (-159) theaters; PTA: $3,076; Cumulative: $140,835,000

3. A man named Otto (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$6,750,000 (-23%) in 3,957 (+155) theaters; PTA: $1,706; Cumulative: $46,053,000

4. M3GAN (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$6,370,000 (-34%) in 3,416 (-212) theaters; PTA: $1,865; Cumulative: $82,274,000

5. Pathan (Yash Raj) NEW – Est. Budget: $30 million

$5,947,000 in 694 theaters; PTA: $8,557; Cumulative: $5,947,000

6. Missing (Sony) week 2; Last weekend #4

$5,675,000 (-38%) in 3,025 (unchanged) theaters; PTA: $1,876; Cumulative: $17,569,000

7. Airplane (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$3,825,000 (-28%) in 2,852 (-171) theaters; PTA: $1,341; Cumulative: $25,375,000

8. Infinity pool (Neon) NEW – Cinemascore: C-; Metacritical: 72

$2,725,000 in 1,835 theaters; PTA: $1,485; Cumulative: $2,725,000

9. Left Behind: Rise of Antichrist (Fathom Events) NEW

$2,362,000 in 1,362 theaters; PTA: $1,681; Cumulative: $2,973,000

10. The Wandering Earth II (Very well) NEW – Metacritic: 56

$1,355,000 in 160 theaters; PTA: $7,971; Cumulative: $2,718,000

Other specialized titles

Movies (limited releases, extensions of limited releases, and price-sensitive releases) are listed by release week, starting with those opening that week; After the first two weeks, only movies grossing over $5,000 will be tracked.

Close (A24) NEW – Metacritical: 80; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride 2022

$68,143 in 4 theaters; PTA: $17,830

A nice morning (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW – Metacritic: 82; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, New York 2022

$14,282 in 3 theaters; PTA: $4,761; Cumulative: $23,976

Maybe I do (Vertical) NEW – Metacritic: 42

$562,000 in 465 theaters; PTA: $1,209

fear (Hidden Empire) NEW festivals include:

$1,281,000 in 974 theaters; PTA: $1,315

The son (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$32,174 in 172 (-382) theaters; Price per person: $187; Cumulative: $409,952

skinamarink (IFC) Week 3

$124,000 in 275 (-534) theaters; Cumulative: $1,862,000

estate agents (Neon) Week 5

$70,000 in 75 (-131) theaters; Cumulative: $1,010,000

Turn each page (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$29,163 in 20 (+5) theaters; Cumulative: $155,617

women speak (United Artists) Week 6

$1,013,000 in 707 (+553) theaters; Cumulative: $2,394,000

life (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$585,773 in 644 (+595) theaters; Cumulative: $1,038,000

No bears (Janus) week 6 6

$10,800 in 10 (+4); Cumulative: $103,476

The whale (A24) week 8; Last weekend #8

$1,013,000 in 1,721 (+130) theaters; Cumulative: $14,916,000

The menu (searchlight) week 10; also on PVOD and on HBO Max

$29,000 in 60 (-135) theaters; Cumulative: $38,488,000

All the beauty and the bloodshed (Neon) Week 10

$17,000 in 26 (+2) theaters; Cumulative: $404,018

The Fabelmans (Universal) Week 11; also on PVOD

$760,000 in 1,962 (+1,015) theaters; Cumulative: $16,024,000

EO (January) week 11

$45,300 in 64 (-16) theaters; Cumulative: $829,530

The Banshees by Inisherin (searchlight) week 15; also on HBO Max and VOD

$353,000 in 1,205 (+1,050) theaters; Cumulative: $9,807,000

TAR (Focus) Week 16; also on Peacock and VOD

$173,000 in 537 (+431) theaters; Cumulative: $6,151,000

Everything everywhere at once (A24) week 45; also on PVOD

$1,015,000 in 1,400 (+1,350) theaters; Cumulative: $71,023,000

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https://www.indiewire.com/2023/01/box-office-oscar-nominations-1234804855/ A strong box office weekend, but Oscar nominations cannot be appreciated

Lindsay Lowe

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