Avatar 2 Early Box Office Looks Promising as it Receives Rare China Release
Dec 20, 2022
The industry will be tracking the box office performance of Avatar: The Way of Water on a minute-by-minute basis. This is, after all, a new James Cameron movie that we’re talking about — it’s an event in every sense of the word. And very early numbers are now beginning to flow in as the film is rolled out in some international territories before splashing down globally this weekend.
The Way of Water made over $700,000 from afternoon showings in France on day one, while Korea delivered a $3.24 million opening day, including midnight screenings. This is lower than the first-day totals posted by Spider-Man: No Way Home and Avengers: Infinity War, but Marvel movies always tend to be front-loaded. The first Avatar, on the other hand, famously opened low, but went on to dominate the box office for months. It remains the biggest movie of all time, with over $2.9 billion globally.
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Tracking indicates that The Way of Water will make between $150 million and $175 million in its domestic debut, and between $450 million and $550 million in its opening weekend worldwide, which means that it will overtake Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($449 million) for the year’s biggest global opening.
Image Via 20th Century Studios
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The Way of Water also debuted in Germany and Italy, and held sneak previews in China, where it generated $2.9 million from around 1,600 screenings at 7 pm, down from the originally planned 3,000-screening debut. The film will enter wide release on Friday, with around 73% operational theaters because of a new COVID-19 wave. Tracking earlier suggested an opening above $100 million, but projections are being revised in the wake of the latest COVID scare.
The first film was released in the Middle Kingdom when it had only a fraction of the theaters that it does now, but has made more $200 million there over the years. In the post-pandemic era, however, China has become increasingly reluctant to allow the release of foreign films. This comes after a solid decade where Hollywood studios pointedly catered to the Chinese market as it became the most lucrative in the world. For instance, The Fate of the Furious made nearly $400 million in China alone; that’s almost twice as much as what it made in the U.S. But this year, the only Hollywood film of note to receive a China release was Jurassic World Dominion, which made over $150 million there. On the other hand, some of the year’s biggest hits — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder and Top Gun: Maverick — were not released in China, which continues to become more insular and self-reliant when it comes to big screen entertainment.
Produced on a reported budget of around $400 million — actual numbers, as with the first film, have been disputed — Cameron has suggested that The Way of Water will have to make around $2 billion globally to be considered a success. And while it’s too soon to tell what the future holds for the film, positive reviews, no competition and audience interest will likely contribute to the its performance in the long run. You can watch our interview with Cameron here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.
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