“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” took down the muted competition, including Universal’s new holiday thriller “Violent Night,” to remain No. 1 at the box office. Now in its fourth weekend of release, the superhero sequel added $17.6 million from 3,855 theaters, bringing its domestic tally to $393.7 million.
“Violent Night,” this weekend’s only new nationwide release, couldn’t muster enough Christmas spirit to take down the powerful Wakandan warriors. The R-rated action comedy, starring David Harbor as a cranky Saint Nick, landed in second place, slightly ahead of expectations with $13.3 million from 3,682 North American cinemas. Heading into the weekend, the film was projected to open to roughly $10 million.
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Internationally, “Violent Night” added $7.05 million from 72 markets, bringing its global total to $20.35 million. Those ticket sales represent a decent start since the movie only cost $20 million to produce. But overall, it was a quiet weekend at the box office as theaters brace for James Cameron’s long-delayed sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water,” debuting on Dec. 16.
“This is a solid opening for an action comedy,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The film should have room to play for another week and a half before ‘Avatar 2’ takes over.”
Tommy Wirkola directed “Violent Night,” which holds a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seem to be more receptive than critics, awarding the film a “B+” CinemaScore. The movie follows an elite group of mercenaries who break into a family compound on Christmas Eve and hold everyone hostage. But the baddies aren’t prepared for a surprise combatant — Santa Claus, hold the saint.
“David Harbor as Santa is about as much fun as you can get,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “It’s an original idea that’s executed extraordinarily well.”
Although it’s been dominating the box office for weeks, “Wakanda Forever” won’t come close to matching the receipts of its predecessor, 2018’s “Black Panther.” The original became a cultural phenomenon, eventually earning $700 million in North America and $1.3 billion globally. But the sequel faced unexpected obstacles, like the loss of star Chadwick Boseman, who played the title hero and died in 2020 from cancer, as well as a truncated theatrical marketplace. But “Wakanda Forever” is doing reasonably well, at least by adjusted pandemic standards. It’s the first movie this year to hold the No. 1 spot on domestic box office charts for four weekends straight. Soon, it’ll be only the third movie this year to cross $400 million in North America. Globally, it’s nearing $700 million with ticket sales currently at $689 million.
Elsewhere at the domestic box office, several Thanksgiving leftovers fended for scraps.
Disney’s animated adventure “Strange World,” which collapsed with its $12 million debut, was not able to rebound. The movie took third place with $4.9 million from 4,174 theaters in its second weekend, a 60% decline from its opening. So far, the family film has earned $25.5 million in North America and $42.3 million globally — a disastrous result. Since it cost roughly $200 million to produce and tens of millions more to market, sources estimate that “Strange World” will lose at least $100 million in its theatrical run.
At the no. 4 spot, “The Menu,” a dark satire from Searchlight Pictures, generated $3.6 million from 2,810 locations. After three weeks in theaters, the film has grossed $24.7 million in North America and $47 million worldwide. It cost $30 million to die.
Sony’s “Devotion,” an inspirational drama starring Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell, rounded out the top five with $2.8 million from 3,405 venues. The movie has grossed just $13.8 million to date, a tragic turnout given its $90 million budget.
Another Thanksgiving release, “Bones and All,” dropped to ninth place, generating a paltry $1.19 million from 2,727 screens. The R-rated cannibal love story, from director Luca Guadagnino and star Timothée Chalamet, has generated a lackluster $6 million to date.
It’s been a challenge to get audiences to go to theaters for intimate dramas like “Bones and All,” as well as “The Fabelmans.” A likely Oscar frontrunner, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film is attempting to play the long game. Over the weekend, “The Fabelmans” added $1.3 million from 683 venues, enough to place eighth on box office charts ahead of “Bones and All,” even though it’s available on far fewer theaters. Those ticket sales bring its domestic total to $5.5 million.
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