At the box office bare, ‘Black Panther’ hits 5 in a row

NEW YORK — On one of the quietest weekends of the year in movie theaters, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” broke the North American box office record for the fifth consecutive year, according to studio estimates Sunday.

As the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water” approaches, the studios have chosen not to open new widescreen movies. This allowed Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” sequel to further extend the box office reign. “Wakanda Forever” grossed $11.1 million, bringing its domestic total to $409.8 million and worldwide sales of $767.8 million.

“Wakanda Forever” is Christopher Nolan’s first blockbuster for five consecutive weeks since “Tenet” (which was released in 2020, trying to save theaters from the pandemic closure in 2020, when almost nothing hits theaters).

While it’s common to see a quiet weekend before a blockbuster movie like “The Way of Water”, it’s rare for this time of year to enjoy a somewhat tough run like “Wakanda Forever.” The holiday aisle from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is typically one of Hollywood’s busiest times. Instead, it’s been a fallow period with one of the weakest Thanksgiving weekends ever and only one drop of wide spread since.

This caused the industry to once again look to James Cameron to fire up the box office. The long-awaited sequel to the 2009 original, which grossed $2.9 billion, “Avatar: The Way of Water” hits theaters Thursday with expectations of at least $150 million.

The R-rated comic action movie “Violent Night,” starring David Harbor as Santa Claus, performed well in its second weekend. It was second at $8.7 million, down a modest 29%.

While many award nominees struggled to hold on to theaters, Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser, got off to a strong start. The A24 release grossed $360,000 in six theaters, according to the best-per-screen average of the year. He gained widespread fame for his performance as a reclusive English teacher trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink).

Focus Features’ “Spoiler Alert,” the romantic comedy starring Jim Parsons and directed by Michael Showalter, hit 1,100 theaters in its second weekend but left with just $700,000 in ticket sales. For Searchlight Pictures, Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” premiered in 110 locations but also failed to make a mark. Set in a movie theater on the English coast in the 1980s, the movie starring Olivia Colman grossed $152,000.

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