Avatar Surpasses With $30 Million At Global Box Office And Predicted To Earn $649 Million At Domestic Box Office

Avatar: The Way of Water may be the most buzzed-about film remaining on 2022’s calendar, and is easily one of the most highly anticipated features in years. So what does James Cameron’s long, long-anticipated sequel actually need to achieve before it can be considered a success? In 2009, James Cameron decided to prove his box office-beating ability wasn’t limited to watery love stories. Avatar – his 3D sci-fi labor of love – quickly rose to theatrical glory, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. Despite briefly losing that crown to the MCU (2019’s Avengers: Endgame), Avatar will remain atop the cinematic pile when Avatar: Way of the Water finally splashes down in 2022. However, while the sequel to 2009’s Avatar will likely draw massive crowds, experts predict that it may not bring in the box office figures that the original film did.

Despite 13 years passing since “Avatar” first hit theaters, moviegoers are still dazzled by the striking world of Pandora.

In anticipation of the sequel “The Way of Water,” which opens in December, Disney re-released James Cameron’s original science-fiction epic to promising results. The film generated $10 million in North America and $20.5 million internationally over the weekend — a huge turnout for a movie that opened more than a decade ago, even if that movie happens to be the highest-grossing global release in history. With this weekend’s returns, “Avatar” widens its lead as the biggest movie of all time with $2.85 billion worldwide.

“We’re talking about a film that’s 13 years old, which people can watch at home,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “The big draw is the Imax presentation. ‘Avatar’ is serving as a reminder of how cool the imagery of Pandora looks on the big screen.”

In North America, “Avatar” placed third on box office charts behind newer releases like Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” ($19.2 million) and the Viola Davis-led “The Woman King” ($11 million). In terms of recent re-releases, ticket sales for “Avatar,” which played in 1,980 locations (mostly Imax), came in 85% ahead of the re-release for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The latest Spidey adventure, which returned to theaters months, not years, after its original run, collected $5.4 million from 3,835 theaters over Labor Day weekend.

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Avatar: The Way of Water is forecasted to generate around $649 million at the domestic box office. Additional formats will help the film to bring in even more cash, as the project is estimated to earn $425 million and $214 million from video-on-demand and streaming platforms, respectively. Just looking at the box office totals, $649 million is certainly nothing to gawk at, as it puts director James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel in a position to make a large profit, given that the film’s budget was estimated to be around $250 million. However, if this box office prediction is close to accurate, then the film will still come up significantly short of its predecessor, as the original Avatar earned $772 million during its theatrical run, according to financial predictions published by Variety.

However, asking any film – even a direct sequel – to measure up to Avatar is a tall task, as Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster broke numerous box office records upon its release. The film soared past the competition, earning $760 million domestically and shattering the worldwide box office, bringing in a global total of $2.79 billion – making Avatar the highest grossing film of all time. It would hold that record for a decade before bowing to Avengers: Endgame in 2019. However, a theatrical re-release in China in 2021 ballooned Avatar’s global total to $2.85 billion, which passed Endgame and gave Avatar the top spot once again. The film is now generating even more cash following another recent theatrical re-release in anticipation of the sequel. It is unlikely that Avatar: The Way of Water will come anywhere near these records, especially given that its predicted $649 million would still be below 2022’s highest-grossing film, Top Gun: Maverick, which has raked in over $700 million domestically.

Cameron’s sequel may be helped, though, by a number of factors, Variety noted. This includes the fact that the film, like the original, is releasing at the height of the holiday filmgoing season, which typically draws crowds to large blockbusters released at this time. However, this year, there is not a ton of competition, as Avatar: The Way of Water really only has two major releases to face off against: DC Films’ Black Adam and the MCU juggernaut Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – which, given that they will both be released in the months prior to Avatar: The Way of Water, are unlikely to have a major affect. While both of these films are also forecasted to do well – expected to generate $328 million and $423 million, respectively – neither of these figures would get close to Avatar: The Way of Water, which, if all goes as predicted, would take the end of the year crown.

The film is being distributed by 20th Century Studios who, along with parent company Disney, have begun a heavy marketing push for the feature. However, it seems that cinema analysts think that, even with the anticipation for the sequel and a decade-long wait, Avatar: The Way of Water will not be knocking on the original film’s door.

Avatar: The Way of Water will be released in theaters on Dec. 16.

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Sources: Variety, Collider

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