Avatar Way of Water, Cocaine Bear, Man Called Otto and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

By Chris Kavan - 11/23/22 at 10:20 AM CT

It's about time the MPAA kicked things into gear, offering a trio of films rather than a single entry for the first time in, I don't know, a month or so? Anyway, while I give thanks for that - the box office is still thankful for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which easily took the top spot once again, keeping things afloat for now.

While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever didn't have the second-week hold of the original Black Panther - which only fell by 45% - it did hold up better than recent MCU titles. Wakanda Forever fell by 63.3% in its second weekend, as opposed to the 68% for Thor: Love and Thunder and 67% for Multiverse of Madness. That translated to a $66.48 million weekend and a new $287.1 million total. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, all signs point to Wakanda Forever on track to become the highest-grossing MCU film of the year as it should be able to top Multiverse of Madness ($411 million) by the time the next Avatar drops on December 19th. That would put it behind only Top Gun: Maverick as the year's top film - though Avatar could also make major waves and act the spoiler. Worldwide, Wakanda Forever is sitting at $546 million and, like on the domestic front, is also holding up better dropping 49% across all markets in its second week as opposed to 56% from earlier MCU films.

In second place, The Menu, starring Ralph Fiennes as a world-class chef who ferries a young couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) to his exclusive island restaurant where he has something very exciting - and a bit horrifying - prepared for them. Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, John Leguizamo, Aimee Carrero, Judith Light and Paul Adelstein round out the cast. It's the largest release for Searchlight in 3,211 theaters and the $9 million opening does top the $8 million for Ready or Not. But where Ready or Not was operating on a $6 million budget, The Menu is sitting at $30 million. Critics were on board with a 90% Fresh rating, though audiences were a bit more hesitant with a simply OK "B" Cinemascore. It has $15.2 million worldwide at this point - Ready or Not made it to nearly $60 million all told, if The Menu can match or beat that total, it may yet see the black but time will tell.

In third place we don't have a movie, but the Fathom Event of The Chosen Season 3: Episode 1 & 2. The faith-based story of Jesus and his ministry opened in 2,021 theaters and saw an $8.77 million weekend. That is right in line with last December's release of Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers, which had a five-day $9.1 million opening. It's also no secret that church groups buy out entire theaters for these type of films, and I'm guessing that had something to do with the opening. As a limited event, however, it still is an impressive showing.

Fourth place finds Black Adam, with a 42.7% drop and a $4.61 million weekend for a new $157.1 million total. It is still running ahead overseas but with $366 million total, it is still looking like it's going to fall short of profitability given its $200 million price tag.

Rounding out the top five, the rom-com Ticket to Paradise, which dropped about 46%, bringing in $3.19 million for a new $61.54 million total. The worldwide numbers have topped $160 million at this point - and all signs are looking great for this $60 million picture.

Outside the top five: The drama She Said, based on the true story of New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) as break the story that will lead to the #MeToo movement, opened to a disasppointing $2.2 million in 6th place. Given critics 88% Fresh and audiences solid "A" Cinemascore, it was popular with those who saw it - it just didn't attract that much of an audience. Even if it manages to bounce back some, it won't be able to recoup its $30 million budget.

The long Thanksgiving weekend (for some, anyway) sees the release (or expansion) of four major films: Steven Spielberg's semi-biographical The Fabelmans goes wide, Disney delivers the animated Strange World, we get a new war film in Devotion and the odd horror/romance title Bones and All. Despite the competition, Black Panther should rule the roost once again.

After weeks of barely any meaty content, the MPAA Ratings Board has decided to throw a feast by featuring three new major titles, including what could be the year's biggest, for which I am truly thankful.

MPAA Official Logo

James Cameron has a lot riding on Avatar: The Way of Water, the follow-up to the world-wide phenomena that was (and continues to be) Avatar. In fact, in recent interviews that director has said that Way of Water needs to be in the top three highest-grossing films of all time "just to break even". That's a lot of pressure. But Avatar has proven to be a continued success. Despite calls of it being a ripoff of everything from Pocahontas to Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, Avatar is consistently re-released and consistently continues to rake in a lot of money. If audiences are that eager for a film that is thirteen years old by this point - a new entry is bound to make waves. Will it be "top three of all time" waves? That's going to be hard to predict but early trailers indicate the film looks gorgeous. Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore and CCH Pounder all return to reprise their roles with Kate Winslet, Jemaine Clement, Edie Falco, Bailey Bass, Jack Champion and Cliff Curtis joining the impressive cast. The setup seems simple: our hero, Jake Sully (Worthington) has settled into a new life with Neytiri (Saldana) and started a family while healing Pandora. But when old enemies arrive (I'm guessing Land and Ribisi are part of this) theatening to bring war and destruction, it will force the disparate tribes to come together to fight a common cause. In this case, that means a water tribe, apparently, along with some cool flying fish creatures. Given its reported running time of 3h 10m - it's going to have to be impressive enough to not just bring in audiences, but bring them back for this full glory. Way of Water has some big shoes to fill - we'll see how it does in less than a month. Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language.

Those who say Hollywood has ran out of original ideas has obviously not come face-to-face with Cocaine Bear which is (very loosely) based on an actual event. The actual even in question happened in Kentucky when an over-loaded plane carrying cocaine dropped a duffel bag, which was found by a bear, who in turn ate the cocaine and died of a drug overdose. In Cocaine Bear, the same thing happens but instead of just, you know, up and dying - our bear goes ape-spit crazy and decides to murderize a bunch of people. Somehow this is NOT played as a comedy but as a straight-up thriller - even though
Elizabeth Banks is directing. It is also one of the last films for Ray Liotta. Keri Russell, Margo Martindale, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Kristofer Hivju, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklynn Prince and Christian Convery round out the cast. No trailer for this one yet but I have to admit I want to see how this plays out - ridiculous or not. Rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout.

Those complaining about lack of originality in Hollywood often point to how many remakes we get every year, and A Man Called Otto fits the bill... but it does highly benefit from the presence of the man, the myth, the legend: Tom Hanks. Based on the 2015 Swedish film "A Man Called Ove (or "En man som heter Ove"), the plot remains about the same. Otto (Hanks) is the neighborhood grumpy old man who constantly tries to keep his upbeat neighbors in check. But when a young couple and their children move in (Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Christiana Montoya and Alessandra Perez) it begins an unexpected friendship that will unveil a new man beneath the rough exterior. Cameron Britton, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Keller, Kailey Hyman and Elle Chapman help round out the cast. The story of someone gruff and mean actually being a nice person is nothing new but Hanks is a national treasure and elevates everything he is in - throw in some emotion and you have a winning formula. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language.

Those are the main films for his week but you can check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:


Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language.


Rated R for some language.


Rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout.


Rated R for bloody violence and language.


Rated G


Rated R for some strong violence, drug content, language throughout, brief sexuality and nudity.


Rated PG for violence, action, thematic elements and some rude material.


Rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief suggestive references.


Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language.


Rated R for some language.


Rated R for language.


Rated R for language.


Rated R for some language, teen drinking and a sexual reference.


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