Box Office: ‘Knock at the Cabin,’ ’80 for Brady’ Opening Over ‘Avatar’

After eight weeks of release, “Avatar: The Way of Water” will likely abdicate the top slot at the box office this weekend, as M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Knock at the Cabin” and Paramount’s comedy “80 for Brady” look to open above the James Cameron film on domestic charts.

Universal’s “Knock at the Cabin” brought in $5.4 million on Friday from 3,643 venues, a figure that includes roughly $1.45 million in Thursday previews. The apocalyptic thriller is currently on track to open on top of the box office with roughly $14.5 million, though those estimates fall shy of the $15 million to $20 million range that had been predicted heading into the weekend.

Starring Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge, “Knock at the Cabin” follows a family who has their vacation interrupted by four strangers with visions of an impending doomsday. The only way to prevent the end of the world, they claim, is to have the family willingly kill one of their own.

As with many Shyamalan films, “Knock at the Cabin” has earned mixed notices, with a current approval rating of 63% from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Peter Debruge called the director’s latest “long, slow and disappointing,” though he praised Shyamalan’s talents as a director, saying he “remains a master of tension.”

Audiences have perhaps been less kind; “Knock” has earned a “C-” grade through research firm Cinema Score, indicating mediocre feelings among ticket buyers. Horror has been one of the box office’s few reliable plays since the onset of the COVID pandemic, but the genre also typically faces steeper week-to-week drops than the average release. Even so, “Knock at the Cabin” will likely out-earn its relatively low-risk $20 million production budget.

Shyamalan may be tracking ahead, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to count out Touchdown Tom. Paramount’s “80 for Brady” which stars the now (allegedly) retired quarterback alongside leading ladies Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, earned $4.7 million across opening day and preview screenings.

The film, playing in 3,912 locations, is projecting a $13 million debut; that’s an impressive figure, not only for a studio comedy, but also one that’s aimed at older audiences, who have been more difficult to draw to theaters since the onset of COVID. While critics haven’t been approving — the film carries a 57% approval from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes — early audiences have embraced “80 for Brady,” bestowing a favorable “A-” grade on Cinema Score.

After seven consecutive weeks ruling atop the domestic box office, James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” will finally slide down the charts. The sci-fi epic is still holding remarkably well, projecting a mere 33% tumble for a weekend gross of roughly $10 million.

20th Century Studios and Disney’s “The Way of Water” entered the domestic box office’s all-time top 10 earlier this week. With a North American gross that should stand north of $636 million by the end of the weekend, the “Avatar” sequel has a good shot at passing No. 9 and No. 8 in the record books: “Jurassic World” ($653 million) and Cameron’s own “Titanic” ($659 million).

Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” continues to maintain a substantial audience, projecting a slim 25% tumble in its seventh weekend of release for a $7.9 million haul. The DreamWorks production will push past a $150 million domestic gross by the end of the weekend — a remarkable achievement for the animated release, as films aimed at families have struggled to match pre-pandemic business over recent years.

The top five will likely be rounded out by the return of “The Chosen” to the box office. Fathom Events is releasing the Season 3 finale of the religious series to 1,975 theaters, projecting a weekend gross between $6 million and $7 million. Fathom theatrically released the first two episodes of “The Chosen” Season 3 back in November, earning an impressive $8.2 million debut at the time.

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