James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” loomed large at the box office during the New Year’s holiday, generating a towering $86.3 million over the four-day weekend. Through New Year’s Day, the blockbuster sequel has grossed $444.4 million in North America and roughly $1.4 billion globally.
“The Way of Water” has been holding strong in the time since its release, dropping only 8% in its third weekend in theaters. Over the traditional three-day period, the movie brought in $66.8 million, which marks a 4% increase from its sophomore outing.
With its worldwide ticket sales, “Avatar 2” stands as the 14th-highest global release in history, just ahead of “Black Panther” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” After only three weeks, it’s already primed to pass Paramount and Tom Cruise’s box office smash “Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.49 billion) as the highest-grossing movie released in 2022.
Elsewhere on domestic box office charts, Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” a sequel in the “Shrek” universe, took second place. The animated family film took in $22.5 million over the extended holiday frame, up 17% from last weekend. To date, “Puss in Boots 2” has collected $66.9 million.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” landed in third place, adding $6.5 million over the four days and bringing its domestic tally to $439 million. Globally, Disney and Marvel’s superhero sequel has grossed $820 million. By comparison, the original “Black Panther” ended its theatrical run with a stellar $1.3 billion worldwide in 2018.
Holiday releases “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “Babylon” took spots four and five, respectively. Sony’s Whitney Houston biopic brought in $4.8 million between Friday and Monday, boosting its North American total to a lackluster $15.4 million.
Meanwhile, Paramount and director Damien Chazelle’s showbiz epic “Babylon” posted $3.3 million over the New Year’s holiday weekend for a dismal $10.7 million total. The movie, which features Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt as silent era movie stars, cost $80 million; it stands to lose a lot in its theatrical run.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” is expected to remain a top draw throughout the month of January, which will be 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. As a plus, it looks to hit that benchmark in a matter of days.
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 debuted 13 years later after many, many delays, will struggle to make that much money because the global box office hasn’t fully rebounded from the pandemic. Moreover, China, a major theatrical market, is experiencing a resurgence of COVID and Russia, another big territory, won’t have access to the film.
“Avatar” stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang 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. Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet and Edie Falco round out the cast.