The long awaited James Cameron sequel to the highest grossing movie of all-time hit tracking this morning with a projected opening of at least $150M. Tracking has it higher near $175M, but rivals are bullish at $200M.
Here’s the thing — the pic is being comped against holiday fanboy titles, and the numbers that are being seen need to be taken with a grain of salt. Avatar isn’t a front-loaded opening weekend fanboy movie, it’s one that will play and play. A $150M opening is 95% ahead of the original 2009 title’s $77M.
Everyone is going nuts over Avatar: The Way of Water forecasts because the unaided awareness (that indicator which measures those polled mentioning their want-to-see of the title without being prompted in a poll) is in the high 30s to 40s across all demos including Latino and Hispanic and Black. These are powerful figures which any studio would die for.
Yesterday, it was announced that Avatar: The Way of Water was getting a China release day and date with domestic, which is remarkable considering that the PRC has sidelined several Hollywood blockbusters as theaters have returned during the pandemic. The original movie made over $260M in China, fueled by 3D and Imax.
Advance tickets went on sale for Avatar: The Way of Water on Monday. The movie is 3 hours and 12 minutes long.
Many aren’t concerned that the runtime will impact Avatar 2‘s numbers given the amount of free time people will have at the end of the year, coupled with the fact that there are no other tentpoles. Warner Bros. had Shazam: Fury of the Gods as great counterprogramming, but the studio decided to make that DC sequel an event in and of itself, sending it to March 17 where there’s Imax screens.
When the first Avatar opened, no one knew what to expect. It was such a zany, outsider sci-fi film where aliens were the protagonists. Similar to Cameron’s Titanic, the movie legged out big time to a $2.9 billion global cume, making it the highest grossing film of all-time. Stateside the pic settled after a few re-releases, including this past fall, at $785.2M where it ranks as the fourth highest at the all-time box office.
While largely other studios have moved out of the way of Avatar 2, back when the first one opened, three films were able to play to wide audiences as the second, third and fourth choices over Christmas-New Year’s: Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes ($209M), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ($219.6M), and the older-skewing Meryl Streep-Alec Baldwin romantic comedy, It’s Complicated, which did $112.7M.