The Way Of Water And M3GAN Continue Their Box Office Reign As Plane Heads For $10 Million Debut

Last weekend’s box office power couple are set to continue their reign heading into the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. James Cameron’s venerable, undefeated sci-fi sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” will easily keep its throne with a projected $36 million gross over the four-day weekend, per Variety.¬†

Meanwhile, our new queen, “M3GAN,” is expected to hold strong in second place, adding another $20 million to her total between Friday and Monday. Of course, those projections should be taken with a grain of salt given that “M3GAN” was initially expected to gross $17-20 million in her opening weekend, but instead danced her way to a $30.2 million debut. The PG-13 horror film from “Housebound” director Gerard Johnstone and “Malignant” screenwriter Akela Cooper has proven to be successful counter-programming against “The Way of Water,” providing moviegoers with a choice between eye-popping sci-fi action and ear-ripping sci-fi horror.

Fortunately, there is still room for new releases at the box office, albeit with typically muted January openings. “A Man¬†Called Otto,” a comedy-drama starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy, grieving widower whose heart is softened by some friendly new neighbors and an unsolicited pet cat, expanded to more than 600 screens this weekend after starting with a limited release in just four theaters over the holidays (so we’ll count it as new). Projected to take fourth place, “A Man Called Otto” is heading for an estimated $14.9 million gross over the four-day weekend, which would bring its domestic total to $21 million. That’s a very respectable performance for a smaller movie, and perhaps a sign that audiences are hungry for uplifting stories after a rough few years in the real world.

Puss in Boots keeps walking, Plane lands

The new-new release at the box office this weekend is the amusingly-titled “Plane,” an action thriller starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter, which is expected to land in fifth place. Usually debuting at No. 5 is bad news for a movie, but beyond the big lead for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” this weekend’s top five movies are pretty tightly clustered together. Deadline reports that “Plane” had a production budget of around $20-25 million, and it’s currently on track for a $10 million opening weekend. That would be a very decent start, especially since action is a genre that tends to play well overseas. The movie is set to open in major markets across South America and Europe in a couple of weeks.

Currently expected to edge out “A Man Called Otto” for third place is “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which remains the best option for parents with younger children who are unlikely to sit still for three hours and aren’t quite old enough for a movie where a homicidal doll goes on a bloody killing spree. The animated sequel is expected to add $16 million to its total over the four-day weekend, passing $100 million domestic and $200 million worldwide. That’s the power of Antonio Banderas’ voice.

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