“ Avatar: The Way of Water It didn’t cause as much of a stir as many assumed, but James Cameron’s big-budget spectacle still helped bring life to life at the box office this weekend. The sequel grossed $134 million in North American theaters and $300.5 million internationally for a worldwide opening of $434.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
It tied with “The Batman” for the fourth-highest domestic debut of the year, behind “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ( $187.4 million in May ), “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” ( $181 million in November ) and “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144.2 million in July).
Expectations were enormous for “Avatar 2,” which had a price tag of more than $350 million, the pressure to continue the highest-grossing film of all time (thanks in part to multiple re-releases) more than a decade later, and the daunting task to shore up an exhibition business that is still far from normal. Yet all of “Avatar” is oversized: the Na’vi characters, the runtime (a staggering three hours and 12 minutes), the technical advances, and the release strategy of 20th Century Studios and The Walt Disney Co.
Before the weekend, many expected a domestic debut of at least $150 million. Some even said $175 or more, but tracking hasn’t been as reliable a metric during the pandemic either.
Disney saw early on that “The Way of Water” was going to be a different kind of beast when they looked at the pre-sales. For a normal, spoiler-filled movie like many Marvel offerings, post-release weekend sales are typically around 5%. For “El Camino del Agua”, they were at 20%. In other words, the company knew that the tracking was too inflated.
“We have a terrific movie that plays across all demographics and has great word of mouth,” said Tony Chambers, executive vice president of film distribution for Walt Disney Co. “We have the screens and we have a clear run. It’s not about opening day or opening weekend. It’s about the whole race.”
The film began its international run on Wednesday and debuted in North America on Thursday night. Nationwide, “Avatar: The Way of Water” opened in 4,202 theaters on more than 12,000 screens, 400 of which were IMAX 3D. The studio and filmmakers bet big on the appeal and higher prices of 3D and premium big screens.
By the end of Friday, “Avatar: The Way of Water” had already earned $53 million in the US and Canada and $180.1 million worldwide, helped by a Chinese opening, the first big opening for Hollywood in the country since “Minions: The Rise of Gru” in August. It blows the $26.7 million first day of “Avatar” back in 2009, though that doesn’t include Thursday’s previews.
An estimated 66% of the $435 million in opening weekend revenue came from worldwide 3D ticket sales.
Travis Reid, CEO of the 3D RealD company, set a “new benchmark for today’s 3D market.”
More than $48.8 million of the global total came from IMAX screens alone (1,543 in 80 markets), the company’s second-biggest weekend.
“As excited as we are by these early results, we anticipate a long and successful run for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX, in a statement.
As with many of Cameron’s ambitious projects, from “Titanic” to the first “Avatar,” nerves were running high over the pricey sequel, one of the most expensive of all time, which began production five years ago. It faced repeated delays and resisted the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Co in 2019 . It’s also one of four “Avatar” sequels that Cameron had in mind. Filming for the third film, which was shot simultaneously with “The Way of Water”, is complete, with a release scheduled for December 2024.
In the 13 years since the first movie, “Avatar” has also been the subject of jokes over the perception that the biggest movie of all time, one that has grossed nearly $3 billion, has left a relatively minor footprint on the mainstream. culture. But even so, critics have largely agreed with “The Way of Water,” not just for the visuals but also for improving the former’s story. It has a 78% positive rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The question of whether “Avatar 2” will earn enough is a complicated one with mixed answers. Is it enough for the exhibitors, who have had several significant hits this year, including “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Black Panther 2,” and “Doctor Strange 2,” but are still suffering? Is it enough to justify the start of production on the fourth and fifth films? Is it enough for the business as a whole, which is looking for a national year-end total in the $8 billion range, rather than a pre-pandemic normal of $11 billion?
But just like the critics who chant “never doubt James Cameron,” the studio and analysts are singing a similar tune.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” has the benefit of a vacation runner that is relatively lacking in major blockbuster movies. Next week will see the debut of Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” and the family-friendly “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” but no comparable blockbusters until “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” in February. The hope is that audiences will continue to look for “Avatar 2” over the next few weeks and months, similar to the first film.
“Historically, James Cameron movies are about the long run, not the first weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “’Avatar’ is going to develop its box office over time. It’s about where it will end up in a few months.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore, with Wednesday through Sunday in parentheses. The final national figures will be released on Monday.
1. “Avatar: The Water Path,” $134 million.
2. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” $5.4 million.
3. “Violent Night,” $5 million.
4. “Weird World,” $2.2 million.
5. “The Menu,” $1.7 million.
6. “Devotion,” $825,000.
7. “The Fabelmans,” $750,000.
8. “Black Adam,” $500,000.
9. “I Heard the Bells,” $308,893.
10. “Empire of Light,” $235,000.
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‘Avatar 2’ makes waves with a national debut of $134 million – Washington Hispanic
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