It’s a strong box office weekend, but the Oscar nominations can’t count on them

“Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots” were still in the lead, with Oscar winner “A Man Called Otto” in third place.

A number of Oscar-nominated films opened, expanded or returned this weekend without making much of an impact at the box office. Best picture Oscar contender “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) took the top spot in its seventh weekend (and likely its last; M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin” replaces it next weekend up). It’s fallen back a bit over the past two weeks, but it should still edge out Best Picture contender “Top Gun: Maverick” as the biggest domestic release of 2022. James Cameron’s film has $620 million domestic and a worldwide total of $2.117 billion.

Best Animated Feature nominee “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (Universal) was No. 2, but it was a consistently strong performance. In 3rd place was the Academy ignored and critically derided “A Man Called Otto” (Sony). With $6,750,000 million from 3,957 theaters, it is the dominant movie for older audiences despite not being in the competition.

With the exception of “The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots” and “Puss in Boots,” the other 11 nominated films that played this weekend were just over $6 million over 10 000 screens – just over 8 percent of its $71 million total. This weekend doubled last year, its total value of 579 million dollars at the end of last year is 53 percent higher than last year. That’s 88 percent of 2020 (although that was Super Bowl Sunday, an all-time low). Our rolling four-week comparison stands at 68 percent compared to three years ago, the fourth week in a row of improved numbers.

Among the Oscar-nominated films, the top three grossers are just over $1 million. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24), now in its 45th week on VOD since June, returned to 1,400 theaters for a total of $71 million. “The Whale” (A24) expanded to 1,721 theaters and is now under $15M.

“Women Talking” (United Artists) expanded to 707 theaters and Sarah Polley’s Best Picture nominee reached $2.4 million in its top weekend. It’s also a sign of the changing niche world: Her 2006 drama “Away from Her” opened mid-year (and earned best actress nods for Julie Christie and best screenplay for Polley). It never played in more than 275 theaters at once and grossed $4.6 million — more than $7 million at today’s ticket prices.

Best Actor Nomination “Living” (Sony Pictures Classics) grossed $586,000 from 644 theaters. Like most of the nominees this week, it’s less than $1,000 per theater. Rapid expansion is the new normal, and it makes sense to push back on prize focus in hopes of a longer game. With just over $1 million in six weeks, the acclaimed film reflects the challenges faced when adult audiences still haven’t returned and the traditional slower rollout no longer makes sense.

“The Fabelmans” (Universal), now available on PVOD, had its widest opener this weekend (1962 theaters) with $760,000. That puts the Oscar contender at $16 million, with a PTA of $387 (warning: It’s like a lot of similar films were released in some theaters). About 10 theaters brought back “To Leslie” (Momentum) with a surprise Best Actress nomination. It also grossed around $4,000 on VOD, according to sources, bringing its limited theatrical gross to $31,000.

All of these titles have (unreported) VOD revenue, reflecting increased interest in the nominees – but for theaters, the sanity of recent years has declined significantly.

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

“To Leslie”

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

“Close” (A24), a Best International Picture nominee, opened to $68,000 or $17,000 at four New York/Los Angeles theaters. The Belgian film, buoyed by strong reviews overall and A24’s ability to maximize its opening weekend, is performing at the top end of subtitled releases. It is gradually expanding.

In addition to the Oscars, various new releases from independent companies took four places in the top 10. Best among them was India’s Pathaan (Yash Raj) at No. 5 under $6 million in 694 theaters. Brandon Cronenberg’s “Infinity Pool” (Neon) from Sundance was No. 8 with $2,725,000. “Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist” (Fathom) took ninth place with $2,362,000, and Chinese blockbuster “The Wandering Earth II” (Well Go) was 10th with $1,355,000.

Mia Hansen-Love’s “One Fine Morning” (Sony Pictures Classics) also opened to even better reviews. It opened at $14,282 in three theaters, which is closer to what many excellent subtitled films have done in the past year.

Add more new entries with “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-off Friday 1, for $3 million and that’s more than $16 million in the broadest definition of specialty titles.

The Top 10

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney) Week 7; #1 last weekend

$15,700,000 (-22%) in 3,600 (-190) theaters; PTA (theatrical average): $4,361; Total: $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; Total: $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; Total: $46,053,000

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

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

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

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

6. I miss you (Sony) Week 2; #4 last weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. The wandering land II (Well Go) NEW – Metacritic: 56

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

Other titles

Films (limited, extended, limited release, and award-oriented release) are listed by week of release, starting with those released that week; after the first two weeks, only films grossing over $5,000 are tracked.

Closure (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 80; Festivals: Cannes, Telluride 2022

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

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

$14,282 at 3 theaters; PTA: $4,761; Total: $23,976

Maybe yes (Vertical) NEW – Metacritic: 42

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

Fear (Hidden Empire) The NEW Festivals are:

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

The boy child (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$32,174 at 172 (-382) theaters; PTA: $187; Total: $409,952

Our Skinamar (IFC) Week 3

$124,000 at 275 (-534) theaters; Total: $1,862,000

Broker (Neon) Week 5

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

Turn all pages (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

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

Talking women (United Artists) Week 6

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

Live (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

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

There are no bears (Janus) Week 6 6

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

The whale (A24) Week 8; #8 last weekend

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

The menu (Test lamp) Week 10; Also on PVOD and HBO Max

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

All beauty and bloodshed (Neon) Week 10

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

The Fablemen (Universal) Week 11; Also on PVOD

$760,000 in 1962 (+1,015) theaters; Total: $16,024,000

E.O (Janus) Week 11

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

The Banshees of Inisherin (Test lamp) Week 15; Also on HBO Max and VOD

$353,000 at 1,205 (+1,050) theaters; Total: $9,807,000

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

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

Everything Everywhere At Once (A24) Week 45; Also on PVOD

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

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