news ‘Violent Night’ Boosts Weak Box Office with Unholy Horror

Early December box office is worse than usual and next weekend will be rock bottom with no new wide studio openings. After that, “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney) comes to the rescue.

Thanksgiving holdovers and expansions drive this period and this year was a recipe for weak results with a disastrous Disney animated release (“Strange World”), lack of interest in “Devotion” (Sony), expansions of “The Fabelmans” (Universal) and “Bones and All” (United Artists) that don’t to come close to their potential and only one week for Netflix’s limited “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”

It would have been worse without Universal smartly placing a new lower-budget ($20 million) horror film into the void. Tommy Wirkola’s “Violent Night” with David Harbour as a decidedly aggressive Santa Claus came to the rescue of a family under siege and brought a $13.3 million opening, above projections. Helped by better-than-average initial reaction (a B+ Cinemascore, very good for a horror film), it came in at #2.

That’s close to “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Disney), repeating as #1 in its fourth week at $17.6 million, putting it at $393 million so far. That’s $156 million behind the 2018 original at the same point (with ticket prices more than 20 percent higher now). However, it will overtake “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to be #2 for the year (at least until “Avatar”). It’s a very credible performance.

Aimee Carrero in THE MENU. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

“The Menu”

Courtesy of Searchlight

Looking good as well is “The Menu” (Searchlight), which is now at $25.5 million with the chance to play through the holidays. It dropped only 35 percent, easily the best in the top 10. Adult fare can do decent business, as earlier “Ticket to Paradise” (Universal) did as well.

Two wide new releases that disappointed last weekend showed no signs of recovery. “Strange World” dropped 60 percent with a sub-$5 million second weekend. There’s always a big post-Thanksgiving drop for animated films, but for this film its best days are over.

Glen Powell’s military aviation-world “Devotion” came in fifth, falling 53 percent for $2.8 million with no signs of recovery ahead.

Fathom Events scored again, taking #6 with the Christmas-themed “I Heard the Bells” at only 474 theaters taking in $1.8 million ($2.6 million since Thursday). That’s $500,000 better than the second wider weekend for “The Fabelmans,” which has 134 more locations.

It’s hard to attach the word “disappointment” to anything related to “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount), but the hyped reissue of the year’s biggest performer came in at #11, with a per-theater average of $375.

All grosses totaled around $52 million, about the same as a year ago. That’s about 58 percent of 2019 results for the same weekend. The four-week rolling comparison, which includes the elevated first two weekends of “Wakanda,” remains at 94 percent. That will collapse next weekend, but “Avatar” will reverse course thereafter.

The Top 10

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
(Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #1

$17,592,000 (-61%) in 3,855 (-435) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $4,564; Cumulative: $393,724,000

2. Violent Night (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 55; Est. budget: $20 million

$13,300,000 in 3,682 theaters; PTA: $3,612; Cumulative: $13,300,000

3. Strange World (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$4,921,000 (-60%) in 4,174 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,179; Cumulative: $25,520,000

4. The Menu (Searchlight) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$3,556,000 (-35%) in 2,810 (-418) theaters; PTA: $1,265; Cumulative: $24,725,000

5. Devotion (S0ny) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$2,800,000 (-53%) in 3,405 (no change) theaters; PTA: $822; Cumulative: $13,800,000

6. I Heard the Bells (Fathom) NEW

$1,817,000 in 474 theaters; PTA: $2,584; Cumulative: $2,584,000

7. Black Adam (WBD) Week 7; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,665,000 (-49%) in 2,231 (-433) theaters; PTA: $746; Cumulative: $165,172,000

8. The Fabelmans (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #7

$1,300,000 (-43%) in 638 (no change) theaters; PTA: $2,038; Cumulative: $5,565,000

9. Bones and All (United Artists) Week 3; Last weekend : #8

$1,191,000 (-47%) in 2,727 (no change) theaters; PTA: $437; Cumulative: $6,041,000

10. Ticket to Paradise (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #9; also on PVOD

$850,000 (-54%) in 1,715 (-523) theaters; PTA: $437; Cumulative: $66,524,000