‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ didn’t make quite as big of a splash as many assumed it would, but James Cameron’s big budget spectacle – no matter what we think of it – still helped breathe life into the box office this weekend.
The sequel earned $134 million (approx. €126.3 million) from North American theaters and $300.5 million (approx. €283.4 million) internationally for a $434.5 million (approx. €409.8 million) global debut, according to studio estimates.
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: The Way of Water, 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 re-releases) over a decade later and the daunting task of propping up an exhibition business that’s still far from normal.
Going into the weekend many were expecting a domestic debut of at least $150 million. Some even said $175 or higher, but tracking has also not been as reliable a metric during the pandemic.
“We’ve got a terrific movie that is playing across all demographics and (has) terrific word of mouth,” said Tony Chambers, the Walt Disney Co.’s executive vice president for theatrical distribution. “We’ve got the screens and we’ve got a clear run. This isn’t about the opening day or the opening weekend. This is about the entire run.”