The Dave Bautista-led Knock at the Cabin and Tom Brady-focused 80 for Brady both bested Avatar: The Way of Water over the weekend, ending its seven-week reign at the top of the box office.
Don’t worry about The Way of Water director James Cameron, because he’ll be fine: his Avatar sequel is the No. 4 film of all time.
Bautista, perhaps the all-time greatest wrestler-turned-actor, and Brady, the greatest of all-time NFL player, are locked in a curious contest over who gets the most bragging rights in a big box office weekend.
While M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin had the biggest box office take, Brady always finds some sneaky way to win: 80 for Brady, about four octogenarians who follow him to the Super Bowl, was projected to have the biggest audience.
How, you may ask, can a movie with a bigger audience make less money? Is this a Shyamalan-level twist?
Kind of. AMC Theaters, the largest theater company, discounted all tickets on 80 for Brady to encourage more people to turn out for the Kyle Marvin-directed film, which stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field.
Brady v. Knock at the Cabin
In an experimental move that could herald another way to protect theater-going in an age of streaming, all tickets were sold at matinee prices, as The Hollywood Reporter explains. That led to discounts of up to 30 percent.
Other large exhibitors joined in, with the aim of luring an older demographic. It seems to have worked: The Associated Press reports that half of ticket buyers were over 55.
Though critics shrugged at 80 for Brady, audiences love it. The film has a 64 Rotten Tomatoes critics score, but 90 with audiences. Knock at the Cabin has a 68 with critics, and 64 with audiences.
Paramount’s win with 80 for Brady reflects the film’s success at building a sustainable comedy that emotionally connects with the audiences, rather than stringing together rapid-fire jokes.
“With Lily and Jane, there were a lot of conversations about creative intent and approach. These things can kind of get a little out of hand when there’s the desire to just make a ton of really slap-sticky jokes back to back. We decided, for this one, to just play it a little slower,” the film’s director, Kyle Marvin, told MovieMaker. “And to play it a little smoother and, and just have people go on a ride.”
You can listen to our full conversation with him on Apple or Spotify or Google or here:
Universal’s Knock at the Cabin door, about the potential coming of the apocalypse, heralded by a knock from Dave Bautista and friends, did ticket-pricing the old-fashioned way and earned $14.2 million in its opening weekend, topping the $12.5 million for 80 for Brady. Final box office totals will be updated today.
The Way of Water has earned more than 2.1 billion worldwide, making it, as we mentioned, the No. 4 top-grossing film of all-time. Two of the films ahead of it are also James Cameron films: Avatar is at No. 1 with $2.9 billion, and Titanic is No. 3 with just short of $2.2 billion. The only non-Cameron film is Avengers: Endgame, which is No. 2 with $2.8 billion.
Here is the box office top five for the weekend of Feb. 3-5:
Knock at the Cabin… $14.2 million
80 for Brady… $12.5 million
Avatar: The Way of Water… $10.8 million
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish… $8 million
BTS: Yet to Come in Cinemas… $6.3 million
Main image: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dave Bautista and Rupert Grint in Knock at the Cabin, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.