After 13 years, audiences can finally return to the breathtaking world of the Na’vi as Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters around the world.
Despite spending 13 years in development, audience interest in the long awaited film has remained unsurprisingly high, with the film earning a massive $134 million in its North American box office debut and a further $301 million in overseas markets, bringing its global gross to $435 million in its opening weekend. Not only does it reaffirm the audience’s faith in James Cameron’s directing ability, but it also provides a much-needed financial boost to movie theaters that are still recovering from pandemic-induced closures.
However, the film fell short of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ $442 million global opening gross, making it the year’s second best global opening. Similarly, Avatar 2 has earned the third-highest global opening post-pandemic, trailing Spider-Man: No Way Home ($600 million) and, as previously mentioned, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($442 million).Though this is somewhat disappointing, Cameron’s films typically have long box office legs as positive word of mouth spreads, and the first Avatar is a notable example, as the film opened with $77 million domestically but went on to hold the No.1 spot for seven weeks, climbing to $760 million in North America and $2.92 billion globally.
What sets Avatar 2 apart, however, is its $350 million production budget, as well as the millions spent on its marketing campaign.According to Cameron, the film needs to finish as one of the top-grossing releases in history to break even and justify its massive budget. That is, The Way of Water would have to earn around $2 billion globally, a feat accomplished by its predecessor. Avatar 1 is currently the highest-grossing film in history, with $760 million at the domestic box office and over $2.9 billion worldwide after earning just 241 million globally in its opening weekend.
Luckily, The Way of Water will face no resistance at the box office over the next few weeks, as no significant tentpole franchise is scheduled to release until Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Leap arrives in February. The Way of Water, which follows the adventures of Jake Sully and his Na’vi mate Neytiri as they fight to protect their children from a ferocious returning enemy, currently has a 78 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore.