James Cameron’s long gestating sequel to 2009’s Avatar made a splash at the weekend box office, but it wasn’t the size of a Pandoran sea monster’s cannonball dive.
Avatar: The Way of Water breached the surface with an estimated $134 million total, much lower than expected by cinematic prognosticators who looked for the sequel to establish itself with $150 to $175 million right out of the gate.
While this box office total is music to suffering cineplex owner’s ears, it is too early to tell if the film will perform similar to Top Gun: Maverick (which held to the adagae “slow and steady wins the race”) or if everyone who was nostalgic for the film turned out during the first weekend, which would lead to diminishing returns (even with no competition over the next two months) in subsequent weeks.
The Way of Water currently clocks in at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, with much higher approval ratings from ticket buyers in the form of Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score meter (94%) and a grade of “A” from those polled by Cinemascore.
Worldwide, the sequel will take in an estimated $410 million this weekend, also about a $100 million lower than expectations.
Coming in a distant second, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever delivered another $5.3 million for a domestic total of $419 million, which moved the sequel into second place in 2022, racing past fellow superhero Doctor Strange and his Multiverse of Madness totals.
Violent Night continued to perform well as an “old school” alternative to big budget blockbusters in third place with $5.1 million in ticket sales, bringing the film’s total to $35 million.
Tune in next week to find out if Avatar will add a steady stream of cash to it’s initial total, or if the film will continue to dive below the surface.