M3GAN, which premiered on January 6, 2023, grossed an incredible $30.2 million over the first weekend when it opened in 3,509 North American theaters. The film also generated $14.8 million from the international markets, bringing its overall earnings to $45 million.
M3GAN’s opening weekend performance is impressive in several ways. In addition to the film garnering rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, it is on course to provide a massive return on investment given its $12 million budget. Also, the total gross is the first for a movie debuting in January since 2012’s The Devil Inside, which grossed $33.7 million during its opening weekend.
M3GAN’s impressive box office performance is echoed by Jim Orr, the head of Universal’s Domestic Distribution. In his words, "M3GAN over-performed industry expectations and normal grossing patterns all weekend, demonstrating great word of mouth as reinforced by its tremendous critical and audience reaction scores and no doubt pointing to a great run at the domestic box office ahead."
Despite its impressive box office performance, M3GAN’s domestic box office haul didn't do enough to dethrone James Cameron’s Avatar sequel, which leads for the fourth week. The film took over $45 million in its fourth weekend, giving it a domestic gross of $516.7 million in less than a month. The James Cameron-directed blockbuster achieved the feat faster than the original Avatar and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, both of which took 32 days. The film also got to the half-a-billion dollars mark faster than Top Gun: Maverick, which took 30 days. Finally, it grossed over $1.5 billion before last year ended, making it the highest-grossing film of the year.
Avatar: The Way of Water is also the second film in history to earn as much as $45 million in its fourth week of theatrical release with the only other film to do so being its predecessor, Avatar, which earned $50 million. Avatar 2 has also racked up $1.1 billion internationally. Its total earnings are now over $1.7 billion and it's the seventh highest-grossing film in history and is on course to become one of the top five highest-grossing films in history.
Following Avatar: The Way of Water and M3GAN, the Shrek spinoff sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, is third with a $12.4 million gross across 3,919 theaters, the Tom Hanks-led A Man Called Otto is in fourth place with a $4.2 million gross from 637 theaters, and the Ryan Coogler-directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, rounds up the top five grossing films this weekend with $3.3 million.
The performance of M3GAN and Avatar: The Way of Water is a good sign for Hollywood as it recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are still many blockbusters to come, including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Mission: Impossible 7, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Fast X, so things will only get better for the industry.