Avatar 2's Opening Falls Short of Huge

Industry expectations were high for $350 million sequel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 18, 2022 2:35 PM CST
Avatar 2 's Opening Falls Short of Huge
This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Britain Dalton, as Lo'ak, in a scene from "Avatar: The Way of Water."   (20th Century Studios via AP)

Avatar: The Way of Water didn't make quite as big a splash as many assumed it would, but James Cameron's big-budget spectacle still helped breathe life into the box office this weekend. The sequel earned $134 million from North American theaters and $300.5 million internationally for a $434.5 million global debut, according to studio estimates on Sunday, the AP reports. It tied with The Batman as 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 carried a reported price tag of over $350 million, the pressure of following up the highest-grossing film of all time (thanks in part to various rereleases) over a decade later and the daunting task of propping up an exhibition business that's still far from normal. Everything Avatar is oversized, though: the Na'vi characters, the runtime (a staggering 3 hours, 12 minutes), the technical advancements and the release strategy from 20th Century Studios and the Walt Disney Co. Going into the weekend many were expecting a domestic debut of at least $150 million. "Historically James Cameron’s movies are about the long haul, not the opening weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.

Below are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water, $134 million.
  2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, $5.4 million.
  3. Violent Night, $5 million.
  4. Strange 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.
(More box office stories.)

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