Avatar: The Way of Water needs a strong second week at the box office

Avatar: Water Road

Courtesy: The Disney Company.

All eyes are on Avatar: The Way of Water’s second week at the box office.

James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time fell short of initial box office expectations during its premiere last week. The film grossed $134 million domestically, less than the $175 million expected by industry analysts, and just short of the $135 million to $150 million that Disney had projected.

While associated with “Water Road” Warner BrosAt the fifth-highest opening of the year and nearly doubling its predecessor’s opening weekend, The Batman’s softer-than-expected opening left many box office analysts wondering if the film would be able to meet Cameron’s lofty goal of $2 billion at the box office. Global.

As of Thursday, the film has grossed more than $600 million worldwide, just over a quarter of the way to Cameron’s profitability goal.

The film’s second week will help clarify its long-term box office prospects. Showbiz analysts often look at the second week’s decline as an indicator of whether a movie will survive at the box office or if it could fade quickly.

For most films, a drop of 50% to 70% is the norm. Major supporting column features from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe often see box office ticket sales drop in that range after reaching high opening weekend numbers. While these types of films can run towards $1 billion or higher, this metric can indicate whether word of mouth is bringing new audiences to theaters or whether interest is waning.

Prime example is Basic and Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick which saw ticket sales drop just 29% in its second week in theaters. The film grossed over $1.4 billion at the global box office, and was in theaters for more than 200 days before it was made available on Paramount+.

“I think Avatar 2 will continue to be a hit all day long and into next year,” said Jeff Bock, senior analyst, showrunner relations. “It’s going to be a big drop for sure, but not like a traditional Marvel drop because Cameron’s movie is really the only game in town for families for weeks, if not months.”

The next blockbuster — Disney and Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” — didn’t hit theaters until February 17, leaving “The Way of Water” a long run at the box office without much competition.

Not to mention the days in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve could account for up to 5% of the year’s total box office revenue, according to data from Comscore. Prior to the Covid pandemic, ticket sales that week averaged between $400 million and $600 million.

Of course, in the wake of the pandemic, the box office has fallen from 2019 levels by about 35%. Without a slew of the typical holiday releases, the last stretch of the year could be much less than previous years.

This mixed word of mouth is compounded by “by the water”. While critics praised Cameron’s visuals, saying the film needed to be seen on the biggest screen possible, a large portion also expressed disappointment with Cameron’s screenplay and its over three-hour running time. However, the film received high scores in opinion polls, including an “A” from CinemaScore and a 93% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Record James Cameron

Director James Cameron attends the world premiere of “Avatar: The Way of Water” at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on December 6, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)

Joe Maher | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

However, few in the industry would bet on Cameron. The director has a long history of box office successes, including the original “Avatar” (2009) and “Titanic” (1997).

said Sean Robbins, Senior Analyst at BoxOffice.com. “There have been a number of predetermined headlines about this sequel for years, but let’s wait and reserve judgment based on what the global numbers tell us over the next couple of weeks.”

The movie’s box office help was a huge boost for 3D and premium tickets, which are more expensive than traditional seats. A ticket for “The Way of Water” is expected to average $14.76 this weekend, according to data from EntTelligence. while, universal Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Sony Paramount’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “Babylon” are expected to bring in about $11 per ticket.

“James Cameron is no stranger to the importance of the long game when it comes to the box office,” said Paul Degarabedian, comScore’s senior media analyst. his films [have previously relied] more on the coin of increasing the audience’s excitement over time rather than a weekend-opening pop.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Fandango, a Comcast company.

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