“Wakanda Forever” is #1 for fourth straight weekend

NEW YORK — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever retained the box office crown for the fourth straight weekend, and comic book Christmas thriller Violent Night debuted Sunday at $13.3 million, according to the studio’s estimates. But the biggest talking point of the weekend was a film that was conspicuously missing from theaters.

Had Netflix kept Rian Johnson’s crime sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in theaters, it would have been one of the top attractions of the weekend. Last weekend, the streamer — in its first such deal with North America’s top chains — released Glass Onion to about 600 theaters. Though significantly fewer than the 4,000+ theaters that most major films open in, the Netflix film has reportedly grossed about $15 million — an enviable sum for a mid-size release.

Netflix declined to disclose ticket sales and pulled “Glass Onion” on Tuesday, preferring to limit its release to a week-long sneak peak theatrical run before debuting on the streaming service on Dec. 23 to subscribers to his streaming service. On Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted the company left “a lot” of money on the table in the move.

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

Walt Disney Co.’s “Wakanda Forever” dominated the box office for four weeks. Ryan Coogler’s Marvel film has grossed $733 million worldwide, including $339 million in overseas sales.

“Violent Night” was the only new wide release in theaters. With David Harbor as the not-so-holy Saint Nick, the Universal release got off to a good start. Audience voted Violent Night a B+ CinemaScore at a cost of approximately $20 million to produce.

Although Avatar: The Way of Water and other holiday releases like Puss in Boots 2, Babylon, and I Wanna Dance With Somebody are looming in the coming weeks, theaters continue to see fewer films in broad release than previously David A Gross, who publishes the box-office subscription newsletter FranchiseRe, says that while 58 franchise films were released in 2019, only 32 will be released in 2022.

There was also a lack of family releases in theaters. After a muted debut last weekend, Disney’s big-budget animated fantasy adventure Strange World fell to third place in its second week at just $4.9 million. Some of the season’s notable kid-friendly films will stream instead.

The Roald Dahl adaptation, Matilda the Musical, starring Emma Thompson, was co-produced by Netflix, Sony Pictures and Working Title Films. Netflix has worldwide distribution rights to the film, with the exception of the UK and Ireland, where Sony released the film in theaters last weekend. Matilda was the top film at the UK box office for two weeks, grossing $9.7 million over that route. In the US, “Matilda” starts running at Christmas.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. The final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1. “Wakanda Forever”, $17.6 million.

2. “Violent Night,” $13.3 million.

3. “Strange World”, $4.9 million.

4. “The Menu,” $3.6 million.

5. “Dedication,” $2.8 million.

6. “I Heard the Bells,” $1.8 million.

7. “Black Adam,” $1.7 million.

8. “The Fabelmans,” $1.3 million.

9. “Bone and All,” $1.2 million.

10. “Ticket to Paradise,” $850,000.

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Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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