‘Knock at the Cabin’ Knocks Down ‘Avatar 2’ at Box Office, ‘80 for Brady’ Touches Down in Second Place

M. Night Shyamalan’s horror film “Knock at the Cabin” collected $14.2 million in its opening weekend, enough to top box office charts and dethrone “Avatar: The Way of Water” after spending seven weeks at No. 1.

The creepy thriller, from Universal, just barely beat the weekend’s other new wide release, “80 for Brady,” which scored in second place with $12.5 million from 2,912 North American theaters. That’s a major win for Paramount, which backed the sports comedy starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, because older audiences have been reluctant to go to theaters in pandemic times.

Critics weren’t impressed by “80 for Brady,” which holds a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that doesn’t matter. Audiences were charmed by the combined wattage of the four Hollywood icons, who play best friends that travel to the Super Bowl to watch their hero, Tom Brady, play football. It’s possible the film got some extra publicity because Brady announced earlier this week he’s retiring “for good” from the sport. The movie, which cost $28 million to produce, landed a promising “A-” CinemaScore from ticket buyers. Women accounted for 68% of opening weekend crowds, while 49% were 55 years or older.

Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge star in the R-rated “Knock at the Cabin,” which follows a family who is suddenly held hostage by strangers (who are trying to prevent the apocalypse) while vacationing at a remote cabin. For Shyamalan, the director of “The Sixth Sense, “Unbreakable” and other mind-benders, “Knock at the Cabin” ranks as the lowest start of the filmmaker’s career. However, it cost $20 million to make (which was mostly financed by Shyamalan, himself) so the movie won’t require a ton of coinage to turn a profit.

Overall, it’s been a stronger-than-expected start to the year at the box office. In January, domestic returns were down roughly 36% from pre-pandemic times, but they were encouragingly up around 68% from 2022, according to David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. The major boost from last year can be attributed to studios releasing more movies (there were 10 wide releases in 2023, compared to five in 2022 and 11 in 2019) on the big screen.

“Comparisons aside, last month showed good underlying energy.” says Gross, pointing to “Avatar 2,” as well as Universal’s horror breakout “M3GAN” and Sony’s tear-jerker “A Man Called Otto.” In the coming weeks, he predicts, “business will go into a higher gear” with the release of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Creed 3” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” He adds, “the second half of February through April should be a very good run.”

Disney and 20th Century’s “The Way of Water” fell to third place with a still-mighty $10.8 million from 3,310 cinemas in its eighth outing, declining just 32% from the weekend prior. So far, the blockbuster adventure has generated $636 million in North America and $2.174 billion globally to stand as the fourth-highest grossing movie in history. 

Universal’s kid friendly sequel “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” landed in fourth place, generating $7.9 million from 3,290 theaters in its seventh weekend of release. To date, the animated movie has grossed $151 million in North America.

Rounding out the top five is “The Chosen: Season 3 Finale,” the conclusion to a Christian TV series from distributor Fathom Events, which collected $7 million from 1,975 theaters. Those ticket sales mark a drop from the previous installment’s $8.8 million opening weekend.

More to come…

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