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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will get to rule over domestic charts one more time as total box office grosses for the weekend threaten to hit a 2022 low.

Analysts are projecting $38.5 million in ticket sales across all theatrical releases for the three-day period. Not only is that the worst collective result in some months, it’s also just a small step above the roughly $35 million total gross of the weekend beginning with Jan. 28 — the floor for the domestic box office this year. After a disappointing Thanksgiving holiday, exhibitors are looking to next weekend’s release of “Avatar: The Way of Water” to get a substantial boost before 2023 arrives.

A solid fraction of the weekend’s numbers are coming from “Wakanda Forever,” which has faced next to no threats as the box office leader since its release in mid-November. The Marvel sequel earned $2.8 million across 3,725 locations on Friday, on its way to a weekend gross of about $11 million.

Domestic ticket sales for the “Black Panther” sequel now stand at $401 million. The film should soon pass the $411 million earned by fellow Marvel entry “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to become the second-highest grossing domestic release of 2022, behind only “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Beyond a round of holdover titles, the weekend is also seeing the release of arthouse films entering limited release, such as Darren Aronofsky’s drama “The Whale” and Sam Mendes’ swoony period piece “Empire of Light.”

Though it won’t bring in superhero dollars, A24’s “The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser, is making a splash in its debut. Opening in six locations, the film is projecting an opening of roughly $343,000, marking a $57,000 per theater average. That would be the highest such figure for a 2022 release, blowing past fellow A24 film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which notched about $50,000 per location in its limited opening in April.

Fraser stars in “The Whale” as a 600-pound reclusive English teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter (played by Sadie Sink). The leading man has found himself at the front of the best actor race through this year’s awards season.

Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman commended Fraser’s performance, calling him “a better actor — slyer, subtler, more haunting — than he has ever been.” Beyond praise for its lead though, “The Whale” hasn’t been a critical favorite, notching a 54% approval rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. That the film looks to contend for the year’s highest per-theater-average with less than stellar reviews speaks to the buzz around Fraser’s performance.

Meanwhile, Searchlight Pictures’ “Empire of Light” isn’t making much of a dent in its debut, drawing a meager $67,000 from 110 locations on Friday. Unlike “The Whale,” the Sam Mendes drama hasn’t emerged as a strong contender in any awards category after playing through the fall festivals. With mediocre reviews (a 43% score from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes), “Empire of Light” doesn’t seem likely to have the staying power that an adult-oriented drama would hope to have through the holidays.

Second place on domestic charts looks to go to the sophomore outing of Universal’s actioner “Violent Night.” The holiday film looks to land an $8 million haul for the weekend, marking a solid 40% drop from its opening figure last weekend. The studio is projecting a total domestic gross of $26 million once the weekend is out.

Disney’s animated adventure “Strange World” looks to land in third, earning $787,000 on Friday. With domestic ticket sales at a paltry $27.6 million, the family film has next to no hope of recouping its $180 million production budget in theaters.

Searchlight’s satirical thriller “The Menu” is headed for fourth, projecting a light drop of 20% for the weekend. The culinary comedy has been one of the few speciality releases to connect with audiences this fall, now inching its total domestic gross closer to $30 million.

Sony’s military drama “Devotion” should round out the top five on domestic charts, projecting a $1.9 million haul for the weekend to bring its domestic cume to $16 million.

Of some note, Sony mounted a rerelease of its religious drama “Father Stu” this weekend, issuing a PG-13 edition of the Mark Wahlberg drama entitled “Father Stu: Reborn.” Playing in a substantial tally of 993 theaters, the film is projecting an $108,000 haul for the weekend, marking a $109 per-theater-average. After first releasing in April, total domestic sales for “Father Stu” now stand at $20.9 million.