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Missing Proves To Be A Superior Sequel To Searching In Its Opening Weekend As Avatar 2 Hits Another Massive Milestone

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The new screenlife movie is outpacing its predecessor after its first three days.






As things stand, it's unclear which upcoming movie on the release schedule will end up dethroning James Cameron's Avatar: The Way Of Water – which has held tight to the number one spot at the box office for the last six weeks. The good news is that this on-going pattern isn't totally preventing other new releases from becoming success stories. We saw it earlier this month with Gerard Johnstone's M3GAN, and now Nick Johnson and Will Merrick's Missing is pulling it off (though the numbers require context).

Check out the full Top 10 from this past weekend below, and join me after for analysis.

Avatar The Way Of Water January 20-22, 2023 - Weekend Box Office



1. Avatar: The Way Of Water    $19,685,000    $597,961,353    1    3,790
2. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish    $11,500,000    $126,460,470    3    3,611
3. M3GAN    $9,800,000    $73,287,510    2    3,628
4. Missing*    $9,300,000    $9,300,000    N/A    3,025
5. A Man Called Otto    $9,000,000    $35,346,249    4    3,802
6. Plane    $5,250,000    $19,457,616    5    3,060
7. House Party    $1,775,000    $7,185,508    6    1,400
8. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond*    $1,459,515    $1,459,515    N/A    1,473
9. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever    $1,397,000    $451,877,752    7    1,525
10. The Whale    $1,281,249    $13,191,971    8    1,591

Missing Has A Stronger Opening Weekend Than 2018's Searching And Has Already Made Back Its Reported Budget


In the wake of the release of Aneesh Chaganty's Searching in late summer/fall 2018, greenlighting the development of a sequel was a no-brainer from a business perspective. Screenlife movies are not expensive to produce (according to The Numbers it had a reported budget of under a million dollars), and by the end of the film's international run on the big screen it made $75.5 million.

It took a little extra time for the follow-up film to get here, but now, after four-and-a-half years of waiting and three days in theaters, the new release is outpacing its predecessor.

Missing was a bit more expensive to make than Searching, with Deadline reporting a pre-publicity and advertising budget of $7 million, but the movie has already made that money back. In most cases, opening in fourth place and only making seven figures wouldn't be a great thing for a release from a major studio, but  this is an exception.

In addition to the context provided by Missing's low budget, it's worth noting that Searching only made $6.1 million during its first weekend in wide release in August 2018, and it too never got higher than fourth place. The 2023 release has not only earned strong reviews, but it has a 91 percent Audience score to pair with its 83 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, so it's reasonable to think that word of mouth will help keep it ranked in the middle of the Top 10.

Storm Reid and Megan Suri in Missing



Based on what Searching did in 2018, the X factor in Missing's box office legacy will probably end up being its performance overseas – but it appears that we'll have to wait more than a month to see how things turn out on that front. While the movie is now out in the United States and Canada, it won't be hitting markets in Europe and Asia until late February. More than 65 percent of Searching's profits came from international ticket sales, specifically $49.4 million of its $75.5 million worldwide gross.

For now, Missing is looking like a strong contender at the box office, and it wouldn't be surprising at all to learn within the next few months that yet another installment in the big screen anthology series will be made.

Avatar: The Way Of Water Makes History Again As It Earns $2 Billion Worldwide

Making an additional $19.7 million domestically this past weekend, Avatar: The Way Of Water continues to be a blockbuster behemoth in North America, and, as you can see in the table above, it is getting close to passing $600 million. That total is wholly dwarfed by the ticket sales from other continents, however. Adding those ticket sales into the equation, the movie has now made more than $2 billion worldwide.

Only six movies in history have ever made over $2 billion at the global box office, and this is the third directed by James Cameron – the other two obviously being 2009's Avatar ($2.9 billion) and 1997's Titanic ($2.2 billion). According to The Numbers, Avatar: The Way Of Water will only need to make $24.4 million more to move past Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War to move up to fifth place on the all-time worldwide chart, and it will need to make $40.7 more million to catch up with J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Looking at what the new release continues to do week to week, it seems very possible that it will end up being at least the fourth biggest movie in history (not accounting for inflation).

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish And M3GAN Continue To Perform Exceptionally Well

Just as its been for the last few weeks, Avatar: The Way Of Water continues to sit right on top of both M3GAN and Joel Crawford's Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, and the three movies have proven to be a powerful triumvirate. The latter has brought in a figure between $11 million and $16 million since it first hit theaters domestically – a remarkable display of consistency – and the former has now made nine figures worldwide.

While Puss In Boots: The Last Wish got a relatively quiet release in late December (beneath the shadow of Avatar 2), it has made $126.5 million domestically to date, which pairs well with the $171 million it has made overseas. The movie hasn't performed quite up to the larger standard of the Shrek franchise (the average worldwide box office total for the other five titles in the canon is $709 million), but it's hard to imagine that the folks at Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation are too upset about the film's performance.

As for M3GAN, the film has had another successful weekend just days after the official announcement of a sequel being in development. To date, the PG-13 horror movie has made $73.3 million domestically and $51.3 million from outside the United States and Canada. A $124 million worldwide haul is pretty spectacular for a film with a $12 million reported budget (per Forbes).

How will the Top 10 get shaken up next week with the arrival of Brandon Cronenberg's Infinity Pool and Deon Taylor's Fear? Head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to find out, and get a look ahead at what's coming to both theaters and streaming with our 2023 Movie Release Calendar. 

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