Expectations were high for Avatar: The Way of Water to leave the box office’s 2022 record holder in the dust. Yet, it seems that the film has surprisingly lost some momentum over the weekend and fell short of its initial $175M+ opening weekend. The reports are in and the film stands at $134M domestic opening, which is $60M higher than the previous entry, the 6th highest opening ever for a December release and ties with The Batman earlier this year.
Globally, the film managed to pull in a great $435M and if the film keeps the legs that most of James Cameron‘s films have, it ‘s got a good hold for the coming weeks, especially with how the film has no real competition in the coming weeks. Top Gun Maverick also had a lower opening weekend but managed to pull in $1.5B in its entire run but expectations are also high that Avatar: The Way of Water needs to make at least $2B to even be considered profitable.
It should also be noted that the World Cub’s final game played this weekend alongside a big NFL game, which could also be one of the influencing factors on why the box office isn’t as high as one would’ve initially expected. It’s one thing that is often forgotten when discussing box office numbers, especially information that is lost years later that give a film a massive boost. Marvel Studios’s films have a stronger opening so no one gets spoiled, which isn’t a worry with Avatar: The Way of Water.
Still, it’s surprising to see the film underperform by around $40M considering just how big of a project it is. Avatar had a lot of excitement surrounding it and it falling even lower than the initially low point of $150M might have some scratching their head. The pandemic has made predictions quite difficult and it’s another project that ended up struggling to meet its expectations at the box office this year. Even Marvel Studios’ frontloaded films had some decent holds after a massive second weekend drop, which might be more reflective of current box office developments.
For now, the second weekend will be its big test. Even if it fell short of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’ll need a strong hold to ensure it doesn’t lose momentum. It’s still curious to think that its CinemaScore stands at an A rather than the A+ of Top Gun Maverick, which might hint at its legs being strong but not as strong as they could’ve been. With Marvel movies having decent runs with B scorings, it’s not as simple as it might seem at times.