Avatar: The Way of Water hit theaters domestically and internationally this past weekend. Did it live up to opening weekend earnings projections?
Avatar: The Way of Water
It is no secret that Avatar: The Way of Water has been one of the most anticipated sequels in recent memory. People loved the original Avatar and flocked to see it over and over, eventually making it the highest-grossing film of all time.
In fact, people still flock to Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful land and its attractions like Flight of Passage. It is a movie that has left an impression on the world.
Needless to say, any subsequent films would have huge expectations to live up to not just in terms of earnings, but also in terms of overall fan perception. Avatar: The Way of Water seems to have captured the approval of the majority of moviegoers so far. As of today, it has a rating of 8.9/10 on IMDB and a 78% on the Roten Tomatoes Tomato Meter, paired with a 93% audience score. This is great news for the film.
Opening Weekend Earnings
Avatar: The Way of Water opened to what seems like staggeringly high earnings at first glance. The film earned a reported $134 million domestically and $435 million globally in its opening weekend. That’s the third biggest international opening ever in terms of earnings, and sounds like a solid start, right?
However, would it surprise you to know that despite these huge numbers, Avatar: The Way of Water’s opening actually fell short of expectations? It did not meet its projected earnings.
Despite making $134 million domestically and $435 world wide, Avatar: The Way of Water did not hit earning projections for its opening weekend.
Is That Really a Problem?
So why aren’t numbers like $134 million and $435 million “enough”? For one thing, Avatar: The Way of Water was an extremely expensive film to make. It cost over $350 million to create the piece of cinematic artwork.
In fact, James Cameron has been transparent about the fact that the film needs to make $2 billion to be successful in terms of profits. This will be quite a feat considering that only 5 films in history have crossed the $2 billion mark.
One of these, of course, was the original Avatar, which hit $2.9 billion globally. The others that have reached the $2 billion mark are Titanic ($2.1 billion), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion), Avengers: Infinity War ($2.05 billion), and Avengers: Endgame ($2.7 billion).
Is $2 Billion Feasible?
At this point reaching the $2 Billion mark is still entirely feasible. Even though the film did not debut with the level of earnings anticipated, huge openings at the box office are not necessarily indicative of what is to come. In fact, neither of the two films that opened to bigger earnings than Avatar: The Way of Water (Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home) hit that $2 billion mark despite the early momentum.
Historically, Cameron’s hit films are a slower burn. Rather than hitting with a smash and then dropping off quickly after the first weekend like many films, his films tend to gain momentum as they go. For example, the original Avatar opened at a reported $77 million before going on to become the highest-grossing film ever as the world fell in love with Pandora.
So, it is entirely possible that the sequel will experience the same sort of staying power that keeps drawing new viewers and repeat viewers alike for months beyond its theatrical debut. Only time will tell whether it becomes the 6th film to reach the $2 billion milestone.
One thing is certain, the film’s performance will set the stage for the rest of the planned sequels. Production is already well underway for the remainder of the films.
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