Avatar: The Way of Water by James Cameron topped the domestic box office with an estimated $134 million opening, less than projected but still a respectable figure as the film enters the busiest period of the year in moviegoing.
Due to an A CinemaScore and good audience exit numbers, competing studios think Avatar 2 will have a strong holiday run into 2023. Traditionally, weekdays might feel like Saturdays between now and the new year. According to distribution sources, advance ticket sales are being spread out this week rather than front-loaded.
Overseas, the 3D tentpole grossed $301 million for a global total of $435 million, ranking among the biggest performances of the epidemic era.
The Way of Water, produced by Disney and 20th Century Fox, cost $350 million to $400 million, making it one of the most expensive films in contemporary Hollywood history. In promotional interviews for the sequel, Cameron stated that it would need to gross in the $2 billion level to be deemed a success.
Before the weekend, tracking indicated that the film would earn $150 million to $175 million domestically and $450 million to $550 million globally. Overseas, the film was given a coveted day-and-date release in China, even though a COVID-19 outbreak is having a significant influence on the box office in that country. The Way of Water debuted in the Middle Kingdom to $57.1 million, with a goal of $100 million.
Another significant challenge: the film’s running time is three hours and twelve minutes long, resulting in fewer showings. (At the same time, it has virtually few competitors.)
On the other hand, The Way of Water debuted far ahead of the first Avatar’s $77 million domestic debut in December 2009. The pioneering picture went on to become the highest-earning film of all time at the global box office, grossing more than $2.92 billion in ticket sales, including rereleases. The performance of Avatar demonstrates why December titles can be more about playability than the magnitude of the opening.
Outside of superhero pictures, The Way of Water is one of just a handful of Hollywood films to have grossed more than $100 million since COVID-19. Another is Tom Cruise’s smash Top: Gun Maverick, which launched earlier this year to $126.7 million domestically on its way to a stunning $1.49 billion worldwide.
Imax theatres in 80 markets contributed a whopping $48.8 million to the overall global gross of $435 million.
In terms of global launch, The Way of Water was the third-largest worldwide launch of the pandemic era. When comparing like-for-like territories, the film’s $301 million foreign debut was 82 percent higher than Top Gun: Maverick, 42 percent higher than Jurassic World: Dominion, 78 percent higher than Avatar, and just 24 percent lower than Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Cameron co-produced The Way of Water with his old Lightstorm collaborator Jon Landau. The film stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang and revolves around Worthington’s Sully and Saldaa’s Navi character, Neytiri. It picks up a decade after the original and follows their family, with newcomer Kate Winslet joining the cast.
The Way of Water piqued the interest of people of all ages in North America, but it favored men (57 percent)
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