‘Violent Night’s’ Solid $13 Million Start Can’t Top ‘Wakanda Forever’s’ $18 Million In Another Slow Weekend
We may be just two weekends away from the year’s biggest opening when the long-awaited Avatar sequel finally comes out, but until then we’re in for a slog. This was the year’s sixth-worst weekend with an overall box office of $52.9 million (a hair ahead of the $52.7 million post-Thanksgiving frame last year), and next weekend has the possibility of being the year’s worst. Yes, early December is typically rough (the post-Thanksgiving weekend in 2019 was the second worst of the year, and at $90.3 million was one of just four weekends that year to fall under $100 million), but barring 2020 and 2021, this is the worst post-Thanksgiving weekend since 1997, and it is unfortunate to see that the dearth of significant new releases is keeping the box office in a post-pandemic slump.

First up this weekend was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, now topping the box office for the fourth time. It took a large tumble, dropping 61% with $17.6 million, though seen in the context of following up a strong Thanksgiving weekend (looking at the three-day numbers, it dropped just 31% to gross $45.6 million last weekend), the drop doesn’t look so steep. With a cume of $394 million, Wakanda Forever is on track to soon surpass Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($411 million, with $370 million at the same point in its release) to become the year’s second-biggest domestic grosser. That would make it the eighth highest grossing MCU film, and it will likely climb to number seven, topping Captain Marvel ($427 million, with $354 million at the same point in its release). Sixth place, which belongs to Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 million, with $405 million at the same point in its release), looks out of reach. The worldwide cume for Wakanda Forever is now $733 million.

Second place is newcomer Violent Night, which had a solid $13.3 million opening. Universal’s R-rated action-comedy Christmas movie is about a Christmas heist in a wealthy family’s mansion that gets thwarted by the one and only Santa Claus (played by David Harbour). This isn’t up there with the early December $16.3 million opening of the 2015 Christmas horror-comedy Krampus, but it’s better than expected and better than some recent genre offerings such as The Menu ($9 million) and Barbarian ($10.5 million). The global total for the weekend is $20.4 million. For a $20 million budgeted movie, it's a very solid start, especially compared to much of what’s come out in recent months. Critics mostly like it (70% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences mostly do too (B+ CinemaScore), and it could see some nice legs through the holiday season, which isn’t exactly packed with counterprogramming.

After that, nothing even cleared $5 million. Strange World came close, taking third place with $4.9 million, which is down 60% from last weekend. After its poor $18.9 million five-day Thanksgiving weekend opening, it would have needed an insignificant drop to boast decent numbers. Not surprisingly, that didn’t happen. With a cume of just $25.5 million on the expensive toon (the budget is said to be above $130 million), this is a certified dud. The international numbers aren’t any better, bringing in just $5.4 million this weekend for a worldwide total of $42.3 million after 12 days.

In fourth place is The Menu with $3.6 million, easing just 35% in its third weekend for a cume of $24.7 million. The global cume of $47.2 million after three weeks is not sensational given its $30 million budget, but the gross is solid for an offbeat adult title without major stars, and the legs are proving durable.

Less impressive are the numbers on the $90 million budget war film Devotion, which came in fifth place. It dropped 53% for a gross of $2.8 million and a cume of just $13.8 million.

Other than Violent Night, the only newcomer to make the top ten was Fathom Events’ I Heard the Bells, which ended up in sixth place with $1.8 million for the weekend and $2.6 million since its Thursday opening. Bowing in 955 theaters, the film, which is billed as “the inspiring true story behind the beloved Christmas carol,” tells the life story of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow whose poem "Christmas Bells" has been immortalized in song.