Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to break records as the Disney movie is set for a release this week, with experts projecting at least $150 million in domestic ticket sales.
It has been more than a decade since the first movie topped box office records. And until today, James Cameron’s Avatar movie is still the highest-grossing film in cinema history. However, it will only be a matter of time before we will ascertain if the sequel of the blockbuster movie will live up to its expectations. According to projections, Avatar: The Way of Water could hit around $175 million in its opening week, trailing behind “Doctor Stange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which earned around $187 million when it was released in May.
“In the big picture, I’d expect a leggy box office run whose story won’t be told on opening weekend alone. This is not a comic book blockbuster with an apparent rabid fan base to front-load sales. James Cameron films have historically engaged general audiences deep into their theatrical windows. However, it’s worth considering that the box office climate has changed even since his previous Avatar film in 2009,” said Shawn Robbins, BoxOffice.com chief media analyst.
The first Avatar movie did not open that strong. It only earned $77 million in its opening week back in 2009. However, the film continued running throughout cinemas, gaining traction as time passed. Ultimately, it aired across US cinemas and internationally for 234 days. As a result, the movie earned a total of $760 million in the US and another $2 billion in international sales. According to cinema companies, Avatar: The Way of Water will only have a few formidable competitors until February. So it could take the same path as its predecessor.
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Avatar: The Way of Water needs to earn more
Avatar: The Way of Water will be available in 3D format, increasing the viewers’ immersive experience. According to experts, the delivery format of the movie will be a crucial factor in marketing it to the masses. Disney and Cameron marketed the second Avatar movie as a movie that must be seen through the 3D lens. This only means that ticket prices are higher than usual should viewers buy the IMAX version of the movie. Moreover, Cameron said that the Avatar movie needs to break historical movie records to break even. It means reaching $2 billion globally.
“I like difficult. I’m attracted by difficulty. Difficult is a fucking magnet for me. So I go straight to difficult. And I think it probably goes back to this idea that there are many smart, gifted, talented filmmakers out there that just can’t do the difficult stuff. So that gives me a tactical edge to do something nobody else has ever seen because the gifted people don’t fucking want to do it,” said Cameron.
According to EntTelligence, 3D tickets booked in advance for Avatar: The Way of Water comprise 56% of the tickets sold in its opening weekend. This means more significant revenue for the movie. Compared to a recently released film, Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” only had 17% of its opening week ticket sales slated for 3D viewing. For the movie, 3D tickets start at $16.50, while 2D cost $12.50 each.
A release in China
One of the best conditions of the slated Avatar movie is its admission to air in China. With billions of watchers, Disney expects to earn a significant amount from Chinese viewers. The first Avatar movie garnered around $265 million from its Chinese viewers. However, the problem now is that Beijing and other economic hubs in China are under lockdowns because of the surge of Covid-19 cases. But it is a surprise for many as China has been blocking many Hollywood movies from their country except Avatar.
“Chinese audiences have a strong appetite for the sequel. On leading ticketing app Maoyan, 1.24 million users had said they “want to see” The Way of Water, slightly more than those who indicated likewise before the release of China’s biggest 2021 film, The Battle at Lake Changjin, which earned $899 million,” wrote Patrick Brzeski.
“It’s very hard to predict the box office right now. It all depends on the lockdowns — and we have no idea exactly what the lockdown situation is going to look like across the whole of China next week,” explained Jimmy Wu, Lumiere Pavilions CEO.
“Then again, James Cameron has beaten the odds in China before. Among Chinese millennials, few titles are as stirringly nostalgic as the first Avatar. The movie was among the first wave of Hollywood blockbusters to sweep the country as it was entering its high-growth box office boom era of the late aughts — and Avatar became the biggest sensation of them all,” added Brzeski.
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First Avatar movie in China
Many Chinese theatre experts contend that The Way of Water may get the same support as the first movie. The first Avatar movie was not widely popular when it aired. But when people started watching it, it gained traction and earned millions, eventually contributing to a considerable fraction of its global sales.
“Despite record snowfall and bitter cold, “Avatar” burned up China’s box office, earning about 35 million yuan ($5 million) Monday to set a record for a weekday opening here,” wrote Jonathan Landreth.
“The 22nd-century sci-fi movie could be on its way to confirming China as the 21st century’s second-highest-grossing territory for Hollywood blockbusters outside the US.”
“Although nearly a foot of snow blanketed China’s capital on Sunday and James Cameron’s $1 billion global box-office hit didn’t premiere here until midnight that night. Moviegoers still lined up in near-zero temperatures for half-price 40 yuan tickets ($5.85) and sold out the show at the Sanlitun Megabox theater.”
Photo Credit: Disney (The New York Times)