Weekend Box Office Forecast: Avatar: The Way of Water‘s 6th Frame, M3GAN, Puss in Boots, and Otto Holdovers Likely to Keep Shining as Missing Debuts

Photo Credits: Disney & 20th Century Studios ("Avatar: The Way of Water"); Universal & Blumhouse ("M3GAN"); Sony ("A Man Called Otto"); Universal ("Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"); Sony ("Missing")

Following a Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend that improved over last year’s same-frame holiday haul by more than 46 percent, holdovers will remain the name of the game going into a quiet final half of January.

Avatar: The Way of Water is again the favorite to win yet another weekend, its sixth of release, as the James Cameron sequel chases the $600 million domestic threshold. It pulled the second best fifth weekend of all time (among wide releases) with $32.8 million last time around, meeting expectations of surpassing Titanic‘s benchmark to only trail the first Avatar in that regard.

From here, Way of Water‘s holds may initially regress a bit with holiday boosts out of the way for a month to come and the heart of NFL playoffs taking place.

The film has proven extraordinarily weekend-heavy for consumers due to its running time and strong lean on premium screen viewing. Still, Water faces no serious competition for the rest of the month, giving it time to see how close the biggest global release of 2022 can get to Top Gun: Maverick‘s domestic-best $718.7 million 2022 lifetime run.

The latest horror breakout, M3GAN, may come down off some Friday the 13th heat last week, but still looks to continue its strong run going into weekend three. The main source of competition will be new release Missing, also targeting young female audiences. More on that shortly.

Two films attracting highly sought-after audiences during post-pandemic times in theaters, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and A Man Called Otto, look to be relative pillars of the market for the foreseeable future. Even coming off an inflated holiday weekend, both will remain unchallenged and continue to inspire very strong, crowd-pleasing word of mouth among families and adults, respectively.

Plane, a slight over-performer in its debut last weekend, could also enjoy fair staying power over the next couple of weeks if the playoffs don’t dent it too heavily.

The aforementioned Missing, from Sony, is this week’s lone wide release from a major studio. A sequel to Searching, the film has been tracking softly and looks to debut somewhere in the mid-single-digit-million range based on pre-release social and audience metrics.

The studio estimates over 3,000 opening locations for this weekend, with previews beginning Thursday at 4pm. Despite soft tracking overall, a low $7 million production budget lowers the ceiling to financial success for Sony and its partners. They expect an opening weekend around $6 million.

Meanwhile, Crunchyroll returns with another anime release in the form of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond. The specialty studio has a respectable history of churning out box office underdogs in recent years, though this one is expected to play more modestly than the likes of One Piece Film: Red, Dragon Ball, Jujutsu Kaisen, and others. Initial location estimates are below 2,000. Thursday previews will be held.

Weekend Ranges

Avatar: The Way of Water
Sixth Weekend Range: $18 – 23 million

Missing
Opening Weekend Range: $3 – 8 million

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond
Opening Weekend Range: <$2 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for an 30 to 38 percent decline from last weekend’s $98.8 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studios 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, January 22 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Avatar: The Way of Water Disney & 20th Century Studios $20,400,000 $598,900,000 ~3,900 -38%
M3GAN Universal Pictures & Blumhouse $10,600,000 $74,800,000 ~3,400 -42%
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation $10,000,000 $124,300,000 ~3,400 -31%
A Man Called Otto Sony & Columbia Pictures $9,000,000 $33,900,000 ~3,802 -30%
Plane Lionsgate $5,600,000 $20,100,000 ~3,023 -45%
Missing Sony & Screen Gems $5,400,000 $5,400,000 ~3,000 NEW
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Disney & Marvel Studios $1,400,000 $452,000,000 ~1,700 -43%
House Party (2023) Warner Bros. Pictures $1,300,000 $6,500,000 ~1,400 -67%
The Whale A24 $1,000,000 $12,600,000 ~1,550 -31%
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond Crunchyroll $950,000 $950,000 ~1,700 NEW

All forecasts are subject to revision/finalization before the first confirmation of opening previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are either studio estimates OR unofficial projections if preceded by “~”.

The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

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