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‘Knock at the Cabin’ knocks off ‘Avatar’ at the box office

NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in almost two months, the box office doesn’t belong to blue people.

After seven weeks as the top film in theaters, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was finally knocked out of the No. 1 spot by the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin” and the octogenarian comedy “80 for Brady.”

“Knock at the Cabin,” a home invasion horror film with an apocalyptic riff, dethroned James Cameron’s 3-D sci-fi epic with $14.2 million in ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Universal Pictures release stars Dave Bautista as one of four strangers who approach a family vacationing in a rural cabin.

The opening for “Knock at the Cabin” came up shy of some of Shyamalan’s recent releases. His last film, 2021′s “Old,” about a beach that rapidly ages those who visit it, launched with $16.9 million and ultimately collected $90.1 million worldwide. His 2019 film “Glass,” the third installment in the director’s “Unbreakable” trilogy, opened with $40.3 million on its way to grossing $247 million globally. Every other film directed by Shyamalan has opened higher than “Knock at the Cabin.”

But “Knock at the Cabin” still marks Shyamalan’s seventh film as director to open No. 1. With a modest budget of $20 million, “Knock at the Cabin” should easily turn a profit. The film, which drew mostly positive reviews from critics (68% on Rotten Tomatoes), added another $7 million internationally.

Taking second place was “80 for Brady,” a comedy about four friends (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno and Sally Field) who take a trip to the 2017 Super Bowl. It opened with an estimated $12.5 million. Shortly after announcing his retirement from football (again), Tom Brady attended the film’s premiere.

Paramount Pictures employed a unique strategy in releasing “80 for Brady.” While many films have sought to capitalize on higher ticket prices through large-format or 3-D screenings or surge pricing, which films like “The Batman” have tried, Paramount went the other direction on “80 for Brady.” The studio partnered with exhibitors, including the largest chains, to play “80 for Brady” at matinee prices to help lure its largely older audience. (Half of ticket buyers were over the age of 55.)

It seemed to work. At a time when comedies have struggled mightily in theaters, “80 for Brady” (with a production budget of $28 million) had one of the best openings for a live-action comedy in years. Discount pricing is to continue for the rest of the film’s run.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” slide to third with $10.8 million domestically in its eighth weekend. The film’s No. 1 streak matched the run of 2009′s “Avatar.” In the last four decades, only those two by Cameron and his “Titanic” (1997) have had such sustained reigns atop the box office.

“The Way of Water” continues to perform especially strongly overseas, where its $27.9 million this weekend pushed its overall total to $2.17 billion worldwide. That puts it at fourth highest gross of all-time; Cameron — with two “Avatar” films and “Titanic” — now accounts for three of the top four.

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