It was a not-at-all-insignificant weekend at the box office as "Avatar: The Way of Water" was finally forced to surrender the top spot, with M. Night Shyamalan's "Knock at the Cabin" earning its place in history as the movie to get the job done. And while that is certainly the headline-worthy story to come from this past weekend, it's by no means the only story worth examining. That's because several other movies and bits of specialty programming entered the fold and did quite well, despite the heavy competition. This includes "80 for Brady," a BTS concert documentary, and the season finale of a faith-based TV show. There was room for all, and that is something the industry at large would do well to make note of.

Director Kyle Marvin's "80 for Brady" actually managed to beat expectations and land in the number two spot on its opening weekend, taking in $12.5 million. Mind you, this is a movie that features a female-led cast with stars in their 70s and 80s. This is the kind of movie that just a year or two would have screamed "straight to streaming," even with Tom Brady's good name attached. And yet, Paramount Pictures wisely understood that audiences will show up when they are served the right dish.

Not only did the film do well in its debut, but its A CinemaScore suggests word of mouth will keep the money coming for weeks. It's the kind of movie that was only found on Netflix throughout 2020 and 2021 – the kind of movie that the pandemic seemingly killed in terms of theatrical viability. And yet, here we are in 2023 with audiences proving they will turn up.

Establishing The New Normal

Were studios being too cautious last year? It doesn't matter because now, we know these types of movies, as well as rom-coms ("Ticket to Paradise," "The Lost City"), mid-budget dramas ("Where the Crawdads Sing"), and even Indian blockbusters ("RRR," "Pathaan") can fill seats. It's all on the table. It doesn't have to just be Marvel's latest several times a year, with horror movies in between to fill the void. There is room for much, much more, and multiple audiences can be served on any given weekend.

Case in point, "BTS: Yet to Come in Cinemas" took the five spot this past weekend with an incredibly good $6.28 million. What's more, the concert film was playing on just 1,114 screens, giving it the best per-screen average of the weekend at $5,637. All the while, "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" ($7.9 million) and "Avatar: The Way of Water" ($10.8 million) were still able to make plenty of money weeks into their respective runs. Nobody suffered, while audiences, studios, and exhibitors all won.

To really put a button on things, "The Chosen Season 3 Finale" ended up pulling in $3.64 million to round out the top ten this past weekend. Similarly, the show's first two episodes raked in $18 million late last year during a multi-week run. Faith-based programming works, and those audiences are pretty damn underserved most of the time.

All of this to say, as the industry has been searching for a new normal in the wake of the pandemic, this can be what that new normal looks like. Diverse programming, week in and week out, that gives all sorts of audiences something to look forward to. It works in the current marketplace and there is little disputing that.

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