Box Offie on Storm Watch as Brutal Weather, Bomb Cyclone Strikes  

Hollywood studios are on a winter weather watch as a brutal series of storms strikes a wide swath of the country.

Christmas week is supposed to be one of the merriest times of the year, but what forecasters are calling a bomb cyclone could wreak havoc on moviegoing as a major storm barrels across the Midwest and into the Northeast corridor, bringing wind, snow and freezing temperatures. It’s also prompting bad weather in Texas and the South, while there’s another system in the Pacific Northwest. Thousands of flights have been canceled, while at least a million are without power, including in Canada.

By Friday morning, studios learned that at least 44 theaters have closed because of inclement weather. The majority of the closures are in the Midwest, where temperatures have plummeted and there are power outages. While the storm began to impact certain markets on Thursday, distributors are waiting to see how badly moviegoing is affected overall on Friday and Saturday.

A number of new films are vying for attention at the Christmas box office, led by Avatar: The Way of Water and followed by new nationwide offerings Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Babylon and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

20th Century and Disney’s Avatar 2 stayed No. 1 on Thursday with $14.5 million — the biggest Thursday gross of 2022 — as it prepares to bound past the $200 million mark domestically sometime on Friday. Globally, the film already sits at $661.4 million.

Puss in Boots 2 followed with $2.9 million for a two-day domestic total of $6.1 million (overseas, the DreamWorks Animation/Universal family pic has already earned roughly $14 million).

TriStar’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody officially opens everywhere on Friday after earning $750,000 in Thursday previews.

From Paramount, Babylon also opens everywhere Friday.

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