The good news: Tommy Wirkola’s holiday-themed action-thriller Violent Night scared up a solid $13.3 million from 3,682 theaters in its box debut, while holdover Black Panther: Wakanda Forever continued to be a crowd-pleaser in topping the chart with $17.6 million from 3,855 locations.
Wakanda Forever has now earned an impressive $394 million domestically to pass up fellow 2022 superhero pics The Batman ($369 million) and Thor: Love and Thunder ($343 million). It is also the first film since Spider-Man: No Way Home to stay No. 1 for four consecutive weekends. Overseas, the Marvel superhero sequel, directed by Ryan Coogler, added $20.2 million to its coffers for a foreign tally of $339 million and $733 million globally.
Violent Night was the only new wide studio release over the Dec. 2-4 weekends. From Universal and 87North, the genre pic follows a team of mercenaries who break into the compound of a wealthy family on Christmas Eve and take everyone hostage. But they aren’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus (David Harbour), who proves that Nick is no saint.
Overseas, Wirkola’s film opened to $7 million from 72 markets for a global start of $20.4 million.
Violent Night — placing No. 2 domestically after earning a respectable B+ CinemaScore — also stars John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Alexis Louder, Leah Brady, Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet and Beverly D’Angelo. In the pandemic era, superhero pics and genre fare have generally fared the best, since they draw younger adults and teenagers.
Otherwise, it was a frosty weekend for moviegoing as a number of leftover Thanksgiving films failed to see much action. Complicating matters, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was only allowed by Netflix to play in theaters for one week over the holiday. While the company did not report grosses, Glass Onion opened to a robust $13 million or more from fewer than 700 theaters, according to multiple sources with access to numbers. The popular sequel left tens of millions on the table by not being given a traditional wide release over the five-day holiday, or by extending its run, analysts said The Hollywood Reporter last week. (Netflix chief Reed Hastings also agreed that money was indeed left on the table, but did not elaborate.)
Disney’s family animated pic Strange World continued to struggle in its second weekend, earning a mere $4.9 million from 4,174 cinemas for a 12-day domestic total of $25.5 million and $42.3 million worldwide. At this rate, the movie could lose more than $100 million.
Searchlight’s The Menu placed no. 4 with $3.6 million from 2,810 theaters for a domestic tally of nearly $25 million and north of $47 million globally.
Sony and Black Label Media’s Devotion rounded out the top five with $2.8 million or thereabouts in its sophomore session for a 12-day domestic tally of $13.8 million. The Korean War drama stars Jonathan Majors and Top Gun: Maverick‘s Adam Powell.
Powell had double duty over the weekend as Paramount rereleased Top Gun 2 in 1,854. The blockbuster, placing No. 11, earned another $700,000 for a domestic total north of $717 million.
Back on the top 10 chart, Fathom Events’ special showing of I Heard the Bells, about the story behind the famous Christmas poem, earned nearly $2 million from 955 theaters for the three-day weekend to place No. 6.
Steven Spielberg’s top awards contender The Fabelmans continues to hold steady at 638 theaters in hopes of growing its theater count once Oscar nominations are announced. The film grossed another $1.3 million for a muted domestic total of $5.6 million.
Both Hollywood and exhibitors are counting on James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water to provide a major boost when hitting theaters mid-month. In regards to the first part of 2022, many aren’t expecting the box office to heat up in a major way until March due to ongoing production and post-production delays connected to the pandemic.
At the specialty box office, Focus Features opened Michael Showalter’s romantic-comedy Spoiler alert opened in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The film posted a per location average of $14,110.
Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, starring Will Smith, also began its limited theatrical run before debuting Dec. 9 on Apple+ TV. Like Netflix and other streamers, Apple doesn’t release theatrical grosses, saying subscribers are their main focus. Fuqua’s high-profile slavery movie launched in fewer than 10 theaters, including several Cinemark locations. One outside source with access to data says the location average was likely around $3,000, a muted showing.