“Avatar: The Way of Water” has sailed past $1 billion in global ticket in just 14 days, becoming the fastest movie this year to cross the coveted box office milestone.
In total, only three films released in 2022 managed to surpass the billion-dollar mark, a short list that includes “Top Gun: Maverick” (which took 31 days to clear the benchmark) and “Jurassic World Dominion” (which took more than four months to join the club). By comparison, nine movies released in 2019 surpassed $1 billion worldwide. “The Way of Water” is the fastest to hit the mark since 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which took 12 days. Only six movies in history have cleared $1 billion in their first two weeks of release.
James Cameron’s long-delayed sequel to “Avatar” opened in mid-December with $134 million in North America and $435 million globally, and it’s remained a huge draw in the days since its release. So far, the Disney and 20th Century film has generated $317.1 million in North America and $712.7 million overseas, bringing its global tally to $1.025 billion. It’s surpassed “Jurassic World Dominion” as the second highest-grossing movie of the year, and it’s the third highest of the pandemic era.
“Avatar 2” looks to stay strong into the new year, which is necessary to justify its massive price tag. Cameron estimated the $350 million-budgeted movie (not including at least $100 million in marketing fees) needs to generate roughly $2 billion to break even, though analysts believe the threshold to profitability is probably closer to $1.5 billion. There’s a lot riding on “The Way of Water,” not just because of its huge price tag, but also because it’s the first of three planned follow-ups in Cameron’s otherworldly series.
The original “Avatar” was released in 2009 and stands as the highest-grossing release in history with $2.97 billion worldwide. The follow-up film, which arrived on the big screen 13 years later, will struggle to near those heights because the global box office hasn’t fully rebounded from the pandemic. Moreover, China, a major theatrical market, is experiencing a resurgence of the virus and Russia, another big territory, won’t have access to the film.
“Avatar” stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña and Sigourney Weaver returned for the sequel, which follows the Sully family as they head underwater to battle the elements and keep the Na’vi safe from humans. Other cast members include Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Edie Falco and Jemaine Clement.