It looks like people are ready to explore Pandora once again, as Avatar: The Way of Water is on its way for a massive $175M opening. Even at its lower end it’ll be at $150M but it’ll definitely be taking its share at the box office normally reserved for superhero tentpoles nowadays. Of course, nostalgia is a big part of selling films nowadays as proven by Top Gun Maverick this year.
What makes this box office stand out is that it’ll more than double the original’s box office opening of $77M domestically from 2009. That film managed to remain in cinemas as a powerhouse ending on an impressive $760M in the United States even with that strong but not record-shattering opening box office. The question remains if the sequel will have the same legs. As of now, Avatar: The Way of Water already has sold $38M in advance ticket sales which is ahead of Jurassic World Dominion and Top Gun Maverick, but behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
It’s easy to assume that James Cameron has that staying power with any of his film, but at over 3 hours, that’s a big ask of audiences. It’s visuals might make up for that time and there’s no real competition as it wraps up the year but it’s hard to predict nowadays. It could end up having a superhero opening with Top Gun’s legs or simply play similarly to last year’s powerhouse release Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It’s international opening is also enjoying the addition of China, a market that hasn’t been very welcome throughout the year and has a chance of surpassing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ $449M international opening. As of now, it’s international cume seems to be between $250M to $350M but as we near the weekend we’ll get a better idea of how it’ll perform. China already has $22M pre-sales and could end up at $100M by Sunday even with 33% of cinemas still closed due to COVID.
Unlike most films of this year though, the weight on this project making around $2 billion is going to weigh on its box office results. With a production budget north of $350M, Cameron and Disney are all-in to make sure this film will be a success. It’s kicked off with 85% on RottenTomatoes with 117 reviews. If audience’s agree, the question is if the film will get the leg-boosting A+ CinemaScore or end up on the lower side of the A Score altogether. For now, we’ll have to see what the rest of the week brings.