Avatar: The Way of Water opens to $134 million, which is well above box office expectations

Avatar: Water Road

Courtesy: The Disney Company.

James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” didn’t live up to lofty expectations at the box office, but international ticket sales raise hopes that the long-awaited sequel will continue to be a huge global hit.

The film grossed $134 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend, which was less than the $175 million expected by industry analysts, and just under the $135 million to $150 million mark. Disney was expecting.

The movie is linked Warner Bros. “Batman,” which also grossed $134 million during its domestic opening in March, marked the fifth-highest opening of the year, according to data from Comscore.

Internationally, “Way of Water” grossed $300.5 million, bringing the film’s opening weekend gross to $434.5 million.

“Because most people loved the movie, the sugar spike in that enthusiasm inspired some opening weekend projections that are not supported by historical data and the film’s various headwinds,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “However, The Water Way has several factors working in its favor that ensure its long-term prospects for massive global success.”

Notably, China took in $57.1 million in ticket sales for its three-day opening weekend.

The Chinese box office contributed about $265 million to Avatar’s global tally a decade ago, but the market has grown exponentially since then. Before the epidemic, China was the second highest performing theater market in the world. Since the reopening of cinemas in the country, it has been one of the fastest markets to recover and achieve success at the box office.

In 2009, the box office gross in China was $910 million. A decade later, it has surpassed $8 billion.

Box office analysts don’t care for the film’s smaller-than-expected domestic box office, particularly because of the way it has played internationally. The original “Avatar,” released in 2009, only made $77 million during its opening weekend, but it became the highest-grossing movie of all time. It maintains this title thanks to its many re-releases.

The first film had an amazing ability to stay at the box office, running in theaters through August 2010, an astonishing 234 days. “Avatar” eventually grossed $760 million in the United States and Canada and more than $2 billion in international markets during its theatrical premiere.

“Although the film begins with minimal expectations, it’s important to once again emphasize long-term expectations,” said Sean Robbins, BoxOffice.com’s senior media analyst. Audiences show a strong preference for watching the film in premium formats, given the perceived fluctuations in pre-release expectations.

Robbins noted that the upcoming holiday pass and lack of competition in the market place “Water Way” for more of a loaded box office than a typical movie.

Premium formats, which include IMAX, Dolby Cinema and Motion, accounted for 62% of all tickets sold. 57% of this total was for 3D tickets. Premium format tickets are more expensive than traditional tickets.

3D tickets for “The Way of Water” averaged $16.55 each while 2D tickets cost $12.62 a piece, according to data from EntTelligence.

Robbins added, “It’s too early to qualify the film’s degree of success at this point, especially with Cameron’s long history at the global box office.”

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