Box Office: MLK Weekend Bolsters All Titles, Including An Admirable $10 Million Debut for ‘Plane’

A neat bit of business: if the actuals coming in tomorrow afternoon prove that this weekend made $100 million domestically, this will make 2023 the first year to top $100 million over its first three weekends since the pre-pandemic times in 2020. An encouraging sign in times when fears of a recession are growing.

Avatar: The Way of Water effortlessly was going to remain atop for its fifth weekend, pulling in $31.1 million (32% drop), putting its domestic cume around $563 million and worldwide total at $1.894 billion. By the end of this sentence, it’ll top $1.9 billion and will be charging past Spider-Man: No Way Home’s total to become the 6th-highest-grossing picture of all time by Thursday or Friday. Once it does so, the $2 billion benchmark will not be far behind, and it can start working its way past Avengers: Infinity War ($2.048 billion) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.068 billion) before February initiates. Not to appear pessimistic, but the long duration and dazzling visuals have enough pull to keep folks returning. If there is one nitpick, the sequel did not carry the legs of its predecessor this weekend, offering a relatively standard fare.

Once again, we’re still looking at a final domestic cume between $700-750 million and a total worldwide grasping of $2.5 billion. One hell of a consolation prize, even if it can’t outperform its predecessor thirteen years prior.

In other news, M3GAN did take a relative hit with a 41% drop in its second weekend, earning $17.9 million. No pouting here; this Blumhouse horror picture will reach $100 million worldwide by Tuesday. The disturbing A.I. doll may not have the prowess of Jordan Peele’s Get Out or A Quiet Place, but it’s already a success for Jason Blum and James Wan. Confidence for a sequel will be roaring upfront as we await further news. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish somehow took further advantage of the long weekend (1% drop!), and it’ll be pushing past $250 million worldwide sometime tonight. Think again for those who believed family films could not stay in for the long haul.

A Man Called Otto got a wider release with 3,165 more theaters and a $12.65 million performance in its fourth weekend. I’m not sure how Tom Hanks feels about his latest project, but Sony clamors that it’s the product in town to skew adults in. In retrospect, it was a grander idea to pull its placement out rather than getting demolished by James Cameron or a killer doll.

And to round off the top five is the newcomer of Gerard Butler’s Plane, which took in $10 million for its opening weekend. People seemed to enjoy the “folks land in uncharted territory and must escape in the vehicle they arrived in” plan, which remains one of Butler’s better features as of late. It may not get much mileage, but if it legs more like Angel Has Fallen than Copshop, it might have a chance of getting Butler and Co. some solid foundations. We’re probably looking at a domestic finish of around $30 million.

Next weekend sees the release of Missing and The Son. Enjoy the time celebrating MLK Jr. Day, everyone!

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