‘The Whale’ With Brendan Fraser Makes Its Own Waves In ‘Way Of Water’ Weekend Specialty Box Office

A24’s release of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale had a strong holdover its second weekend out, grossing $168.5k on the same six screens in NYC and LA where it opened its first frame to the biggest per theater average of the year – beating the distributor’s March release of Everything Everywhere All At Once.

This weekend’s PTA is $28.3k. The Whale’s estimated domestic cume through Sunday is $596k.

With a $360,000 debut, its per screen average of $60,000 was also the second largest limited opening since 2020 and helmer Aronofsky’s best opening since Black Swan in 2010.

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Everything Everywhere opened to a $50k PSA on four screens. It has grossed over $100 million globally and The Whale won’t have that trajectory at the box office. But it’s a huge comeback for its star. Fraser, the former action star of The Mummy franchise, plays an obese, reclusive English teacher struggling to reconnect with his estranged daughter. He’s on every list of Oscar contenders and earned nominations from Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes this past week.

The film that made a splash in Venice a has a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with several sellouts throughout the weekend. A24 will expand into a moderate nationwide break Dec. 21, looking at around 500 screens. 

Searchlight Picture’s Empire of Light, also in week 2, earned $235k in 436 locations for a PTA of $539 and a domestic cume through Sunday of $471,821. It was no. 10 at the domestic box office. The distributor’s The Menu, in week 5, earned $1.7 million in 1,875 locations for a domestic cume through Sunday of $32,122,499. It was no. 5.

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans from Universal was 7th in week 6 at 955 locations for a weekend gross of $750k and cume of $7.66 million.

Fathom’s I Heard The Bells was 9th in week 9 at 426 locations at $309k for the weekend with a cume approaching $5 million.

With Avatar, The Way Of Water on the loose, the top ten is a bit off kilter with the gap between the top film ($134 million domestic) and the rest, especially the indie/specialty fare, pretty steep.

Most distributors of all sizes chose to steer clear of Avatar. One new indie release this weekend, The Super 8 Years by Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux, opened at Film and Lincoln Center and the DCTV Firehouse Cinema in NYC, no numbers yet available.

Other holdovers reporting include Sideshow/Janus Films’ for EO, which expanded to 33 screens in week 5 and grossed an estimated $59,500 for a new cume of $238,650. 

In week 8, Utopia’s Holy Spider is up to $200k across 50 screens, including a $7k weekend.

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