‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Opens With $180 Million at the Global Box Office


‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Opens With $180 Million at the Global Box Office

After coming in slightly under expectations at the domestic box office, and with China projected to underperform because of a new COVID wave, Avatar: The Way of Water will likely not

surpass Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to deliver the top global opening of the year.

ith $127 million from international markets and another $53 million domestically, The Way of Water has made $180 million worldwide so far.

Director James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to

his record-breaking 2009 hit was expected to make between $450 million and $550 million globally after its first weekend, but that number has now been revised to $410 million. The film is currently playing in 52 offshore territories, among which the most notable is China.

The Way of Water received a rare (for a Hollywood film) release in the Middle Kingdom,

but its hopes were dashed when a new wave of the coronavirus prompted the shutdown of a significant number of theaters.


While Hollywood studios have spent the better part of

the last decade pandering to Chinese audiences, government sanctions and a robust evolution of the loc

al industry have made imports less frequent. The only notable Hollywood film to be released in China this y

ear, for instance, is Jurassic World Dominion, which ended up making a little over $150 million there.

he first Avatar remains a popular attraction for Chinese crowds and has grossed $200 million in the country over the years.

The Way of Water was expected to hit $100 million in its

Chinese opening, after entering previews earlier in the week. But the projections have since been reduced.

So far, the film has grossed $44 million there —

not all of this figure has yet been added to the official tally. Neither has the entirety of the $17 million that The Way of Water has picked up in Korea. Produced on a

reported budget of $400 million, The Way of Water will need to gross around $2 billion globally to break even, Cameron has suggested.

By comparison, the first film grossed $241 million globally after five days of release. Domestically, the first Avatar made $77 million in its first weekend, which compelled many observers to predict doom. But it famously held spectacularly well over the subsequent

weeks. It remains the highest-grossing film in history with $760 million at the domestic box office and over $2.9 billion worldwide.

The record for the biggest global debut is held by Avengers: Endgame ($1.2 billion). This year, Doctor Strange 2 made $450 million in its worldwide openi

ng, while Dominion made $392 million and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever made $330 million. Positive audience reception and a complete lack of competition will help The Way of Water,

featuring returning stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña, stay afloat over the next few weeks. You can watch our interview with Cameron here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

Disney and 20th Century Studios’ “The Way of Wate

r” took flight at the box office with a solid $53 million gross from 4,202 locations in its opening day, a figur

e that includes $17 million in Thursday previews. That ranks as the sixth highest first-day domestic gross of the year, lower than those earned by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($90.7 million), “

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” ($84.2 million), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($69.5 million), “Jurassic World Dominion” ($59.5 million) and “The Batm

n” ($56.6 million). It’s also a good deal higher tha

n the $26.7 million opening day that the first “Avatar” landed in 2009, though the sequel arrives with the benefit of Thursday previews and years of anticipation.

It’s all eyes on “The Way of Water” as it hopes to mou

nt a bountiful box office run; it isn’t every weekend that theaters receive a sequel to the highest-grossing

film ever. When the first “Avatar” landed a domestic opening of $77 million in 2009, many reports were u

nderwhelmed by the initial performance, pointing to the film’s highly mythologized production process and Cameron’s superlative box office success with 1997’s “Titanic,” then the highest-grossing film ever.

But with premium format subcharges and phenomenal holds extending months later,

“Avatar” stayed strong, eventually toppling “Titanic” to take on the all-time record.

With very little competition throughout the holidays, “The Way of Water” hopes to mount a similar word-of-mouth driven blockbuster run. The film has received

strong raves from some critics without being unanimously praised, currently holding a 73% approval

rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. General audiences seem to be much more positive; the film earned an “A” grade through

research firm Cinema Score, indicating strong approval among the first round of ticket buyers.

It isn’t just a matter of seeing if Cameron’s latest can fully

justify its whopping reported $350 million production budget (much less match the financial

success of his previous films). “The Way of Water” comes at a

time when exhibitors are thirsting for an event to drum up business through the holidays. Total box office grosses for the year will likely finish an alarming chunk down from pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. And after an auspicious summer

season featuring a variety of hits, theater foot traffic has dwindled through the fall season, with little other than

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” really drawing crowds.

On that topic, the superhero sequel is now the second

-highest grossing film of the year at the domestic box office, surpassing the $411 million gross of its

fellow Marvel entry “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

“Wakanda Forever” should take a distant second on domestic

charts this weekend, projecting a $5 million haul to pad its

North American total gross to $418 million.

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