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Wakanda Forever is No 1 at North American box office for 4th straight weekend

Comic holiday thriller Violent Night was the only new wide release in cinemas, earning US$13.3 million. It cost about US$20 million to make. 

Wakanda Forever is No 1 at North American box office for 4th straight weekend

This image released by Marvel Studios shows Danai Gurira in a scene from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. (Marvel Studios via AP)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever kept the box-office crown for the fourth straight weekend, and the comic holiday thriller Violent Night debuted with US$13.3 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday (Dec 4). But the biggest talking point on the weekend was a movie conspicuously absent from theaters.

Had Netflix kept Rian Johnson's whodunit sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in theatres, it would have been one of the weekend's top draws. Last weekend, the streamer in its first such pact with North America's top chains released Glass Onion in about 600 theatres. While significantly less than the 4,000-plus theatres most big movies open in, the Netflix film reportedly grossed about US$15 million an enviable total for a medium scaled release.

Netflix declined to release ticket sales and pulled Glass Onion on Tuesday, preferring to keep its release limited to a one-week sneak-peak theatrical run before debuting on the streaming service Dec 23. Netflix's focus, its executives have said, is driving subscribers to its streaming service. On Wednesday, Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, acknowledged the company left “lots” of money on the table in the move.

So instead of feasting on Glass Onion, as ticket buyers did after Thanksgiving in 2019 when Lionsgate released Knives Out, moviegoers were fed mostly leftovers this weekend.

For four weeks, the Walt Disney Co's Wakanda Forever has ruled the box office. Ryan Coogler's Marvel movie has totaled US$733 million globally, including US$339 million in overseas sales.

Violent Night was the only new wide release in cinemas. Starring David Harbour as a not-so-saintly Saint Nick, the Universal release got off to a good start. Violent Night, which earned a B+ CinemaScore from audiences, cost about US$20 million to make.

Though Avatar: The Way Of Water and other holiday releases like Puss In Boots 2, Babylon and I Wanna Dance With Somebody loom in the coming weeks, theatres continue to see fewer films in wide release than they did pre-pandemic. David A Gross, who publishes the box-office subscription newsletter FranchiseRe, says that while there were 58 franchise films released in 2019, there have been only 32 in 2022.

There's also been a dearth of family releases in theatres. After a muted debut last weekend, Disney's big-budget animated fantasy adventure Strange World dipped to third place with a mere US$4.9 million in its second week. Some of the season's notable kid-friendly movies are streaming, instead.

The Roald Dahl adaptation Matilda The Musical, starring Emma Thompson, was made jointly by Netflix, Sony Pictures and Working Title Films. Netflix has worldwide distribution rights to the film except for the United Kingdom and Ireland, where Sony put the film into theatres last weekend. For two weeks, Matilda has been the top film at the UK box office, grossing US$9.7 million over that stretch. In the US, Matilda begins steaming on Christmas.

Source: AP/sr