‘Wakanda Forever’ is number 1 for the 4th consecutive weekend

NEW YORK — “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” held on to the box office crown for the fourth weekend in a row, and the holiday comedy thriller “Violent Night” debuted with $13.3 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. But the biggest topic of conversation over the weekend was a movie that was conspicuously absent from theaters.

If Netflix had kept Rian Johnson’s whodunit sequel “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” in theaters, it would have been one of the weekend’s top draws. Last weekend, in its first such pact with North America’s top chains, the streamer released “Glass Onion” in about 600 theaters. While significantly less than the 4,000-plus theaters in which most major motion pictures open, the Netflix movie reportedly grossed around $15 million — an enviable total for a mid-range release.

Netflix declined to release ticket sales and discontinued “Glass Onion” on Tuesday, preferring to keep the release limited to a week-long sneak-peak theatrical release before debuting on the streaming service on Dec. 23. Netflix’s focus, executives have said, is driving subscribers to its streaming service. On Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged that the company put “a lot” of money on the table during the move.

So instead of feasting on “Glass Onion,” as ticket buyers did after Thanksgiving in 2019 when Lionsgate released “Knives Out,” moviegoers got mostly leftovers this weekend.

For four weeks, Walt Disney Co.’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ dominates. the box office. Ryan Coogler’s Marvel film has grossed a total of $733 million worldwide, including $339 million in foreign sales.

“Violent Night” was the only new wide release in movie theaters. Starring David Harbor as a not-so-holy Saint Nick, the Universal release got off to a great start. “Violent Night,” which earned a B+ CinemaScore from audiences, cost about $20 million to make.

While “Avatar: The Way of Water” and other holiday releases like “Puss in Boots 2,” “Babylon,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” loom in the coming weeks, theaters continue to release fewer movies wide than they did David A. Gross, who publishes the subscription newsletter FranchiseRe, says that while 58 franchise films were released in 2019, there were only 32 in 2022.

There is also a lack of family releases in theaters. After a muted debut last weekend, Disney’s big-budget animated fantasy adventure “Strange World” dropped to third place with just $4.9 million in its second week. Instead, some of the season’s notable kid-friendly movies will be streaming.

The Roald Dahl adaptation ‘Matilda the Musical’, starring Emma Thompson, was jointly created by Netflix, Sony Pictures and Working Title Films. Netflix has worldwide distribution rights to the film, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland, where Sony released the film last weekend. For two weeks, “Matilda” was the top film at the UK box office, grossing $9.7 million over that stretch. In the US, “Matilda” starts steaming at Christmas.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore. 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. “Bones 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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