Moviegoers see you, Avatar 2.
The opening weekend of Avatar: The Way of Water conquered the box office around the world. With a $134.1 million domestic haul and a $301 international tally, the sequel to 2009’s Avatar banked $435 million worldwide.
For context, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has collected $367M internationally in a month-plus of overseas multiplex play, a number that The Way of Water has nearly matched in its first three days. International sales should continue to bolster Avatar 2 as it will likely pass Wakanda‘s worldwide earnings which currently stand at $785.6M (most of which has come from North America’s $418M box office).
To that end: while Avatar 2‘s $134.1M domestic open came in well-below projections of $150M to $175M, the rest of the world more than made up for that deficit. Its $435M is the third biggest global launch of the post pandemic era, trailing only Spider-Man: No Way Home ($600M) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($442M).
The big question: will The Way of Water have the kind of staying power that fueled the original Avatar from its $77M domestic launch to a North American total of $785.2M and $2.9 billion worldwide? (That nearly-$3 billion global cume still holds the record as the all-time box office champ).
Not much stands in its way. With no big tentpoles appearing on the horizon, the only standing between James Cameron‘s blockbuster and complete box office dominance is the well-reviewed Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which opens on Wednesday December 21.
Even so, while that DreamWorks animated sequel should perform well with family audiences over the holidays, The Way of Water should continue to reign supreme, especially since the impact of the three-hour hard-R Oscar hopeful Babylon will likely be muted when it opens on Friday December 23, along with the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody that looks to attract a loyal but niche audience.
Oddly enough, The Way of Water may face its stiffest competition during the holidays at home. The 23rd is also when Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery finally begins streaming on Netflix.
In North America, everything else trailed far behind. Wakanda Forever finally slipped to #2 with $5.3M in its sixth weekend, and the R-rated action comedy Violent Night was third with $5M ($34.9M total). In fourth place was Disney’s animated bomb Strange World; the $200M budgeted movie has limped to $33.7M so far. And in fifth place: the culinary horror thriller The Menu. Its $1.7M tally brought its total to $32.1M.