Box Office Predictions: Three new releases no match for Avatar’s second week

Avatar, Babylon

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when the stress levels are at an all time high because that sweater little Timmy wanted is sold out everywhere and the phrase “I’m done with Christmas” is uttered every five seconds! However in our world, the movie world, Christmas is actually one of the biggest movie going days of the year. This year has the added bonus of the Holiday falling on a Sunday, the first time that has happened since 2016 when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finished atop with just over $64 million (with $25.8 of that coming on Christmas Day). Of course that year Hanukkah actually began on the evening of December 24 whereas this year tonight is the fifth night. 

So the big question is: can any new release movie take down Avatar: The Way of Water in its second week of release. The short answer is: probably not! Although if any movie has a shot at taking its crown it would be another anticipated sequel: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Bolstered by strong reviews calling the film smart, sweet and funny, Puss in Boots is tracking to do around $30 million over its opening stretch (which actually began on December 21 in the U.S, with a $3.2 million take). I’m going to compare this one to the 2016 Christmas release of Sing that also opened on a Wednesday and saw a $35 million weekend take with a $55.8 million 5-day gross. I’ll split the difference and call it a $40 million opening. Of course, you never know, families could be looking for something to do and anything from the Shrek franchise is generally reliable entertainment.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

The next new release this weekend is the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, playing as counter programming to the more action oriented Avatar. Tracking for the film has it barely hitting double digits in its opening, and I think they are correct. This one doesn’t seem to have the fan fare that something like Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman had. Houston is certainly a legend, but her life doesn’t seem like it was PG13 rated, which tells me we may be getting a watered down picture of her life. Reviews so far have said the film is entertaining enough but a full on cliche of a biopic movie. Time will tell how word of mouth plays out for this one, but I can’t see it opening higher than $10 million. 


The next wide release on this holiday weekend is the Damien Chazelle film Babylon. As a massive fan of La La Land (it currently ranks as my third all time favorite movie) I was on board with this movie since I first heard about it, even though I knew absolutely nothing about it! And then the trailer dropped and… I still had no idea what the movie was about! It wasn’t until I read our own Chris Bumbray’s 6/10 review that I saw the film is about the transition from the silent film era to the “talkies” era. Sadly, I think this will be Chazelle’s second box office disappointment in a row (after his 2018 Neil Armstrong biopic First Man failed to take off with just $44.9 million domestic). After enduring Avatar’s 3 hour and 12 minute runtime,how many people are going to be eager to go back a week later for a 3 hour and 9 minute film? Especially with mixed reviews calling it exhausting with great acting. I’m going to say this one doesn’t even get to $10 million this weekend.

This weekend also sees the wide expansion of The Whale on over 600 screens. Having the bragging rights to the highest per theater average of 2022 when it opened ($60,000 per theater) and a strong second weekend of $168,500 on six screens, this weekend will be the test if the film has any mainstream appeal or if it was just a limited release darling. Having seen the film yesterday in a pretty packed theater, I think general audiences may be interested in checking out what is being hailed as the best performance of the year by a nearly unrecognizable Brendan Fraser. But let’s be clear, this one is not your typical holiday joy fest. The Whale is a rather depressing tale of a man with severe health problems coming to terms with everything he did wrong in his life. The performance by Fraser is everything it has been hyped up to be and I for one am glad he was the actor chosen for this film instead of trying to appease the twitter-verse (or the seventh lead from Mean Girls) who just like to complain. I will go one step further and say that Hong Chau also deserves to be in the awards conversation. Between this one and The Menu she is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. I think this one will see around $2 million for the weekend. You can check out Chris Bumbray’s 9/10 here.

Avatar: The Way of Water, opening, box office

So now let’s get to the likely front runner for this weekend: the second week of Avatar: The Way of Water. Last week saw the film open quite soft with just $135 million, but it boasted strong weekday numbers, even posting the best Tuesday box office of 2022 with $18.2 million. So what type of drop can we expect this weekend? If we go by the original Avatar we can expect a drop of just 1.8%. But this isn’t the original Avatar, so I think a larger drop is in store. Smart money would be on an at least 50% drop, so let’s just go with that! These next few weekends will be the big test for the film to see if it actually has the legs it needs to be seen as a success (and I’m hearing that $2 billion is its break even point, which I think is over inflated. Some reports say the budget for this one was over $450 million, but didn’t Cameron also shoot Part 3 and some of part 4 with that budget? So maybe $2 billion is the break even point for all three films?)

Will you be heading to theaters at all this holiday weekend? Or is a nice weekend in with the Netflix release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery all you need? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. Avatar: The Way of Water $67.5 Million
  2. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish$40 Million
  3. I Wanna Dance With Somebody$10 Million
  4. Babylon$8 Million
  5. Violent Night$4 Million

About the Author

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Brad grew up loving movies and wanting to work in the industry. Graduated from Full Sail University in 2007 before moving to Los Angeles where I was fortunate enough to join SAG-Aftra in 2012. I love every second I get to write about movies for Joblo!