According to many unconfirmed reports, Avatar: The Way Of Water needs to make $2 billion at the box office simply to break even. With a degree of cynicism among movie commentators as to whether the entire world will want to journey to Pandora again as they did for the original, some have been expecting failure.

When the numbers came in softer-than-expected via estimates on Friday, it looked like this may come to pass. It pulled in $134 million domestically. That makes it a tie with The Batman in fifth slot for year in terms of size of domestic opening. Projections were for $150-175 million.


However with Avatar it was never about the domestic box-office. International is where all the action is. Outside the US it grabbed $301 million. This makes it the third biggest opening behind Spider-Man: No Way Home and the second Doctor Strange movie. China, still half closed due to a nonsensical zero-COVID policy, delivered $57.1 million.

This is where things get interesting. The movie is over three hours long so the number of screenings per day is limited. It is also expected to mimic the first movie in showing incredible legs over a longer period on release. It is normal for blockbusters such as the latest Marvel to see circa 60% drops in the second week on release, then end up on Streaming within about 60 days, depending on studio.

Avatar: The Way Of Water will be in theatres for the entire festive and New Year period with practically zero competition. Another way it is mimicking its predecessor is the ticket sales boost. The first Avatar is estimated to have received 40% of it’s incredible box office thanks to it being a must-see movie in 3D and people paying extra for the experience.

For this instalment 67% of overseas ticket sales came from 3D, IMAX and other so-called “premium” formats. To put that into context, Avengers: Endgame only sold about 25% of its tickets in 3D.


So this is a marathon, not a sprint for Avatar: The Way Of Water. Key data will be the second week grosses in China and the drop off percentage globally in the same week. If those all hold steady then we may be seeing the pattern of Avatar repeat itself for the sequel.

If the drops are big, then it’s potentially bad news all round for theatres and theatrical releases.

See what two Outposters thought of the movie here, and here.

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