Disney’s (DIS) director James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” delivered its first $100 million opening weekend — but it didn’t miss industry expectations of over $170 million.
The long-awaited sequel, which runs for 3 hours and 12 minutes, has grossed nearly $134 million in the domestic markets – tied with Warner Bros. Pictures. (WBD) “Batman” is the fifth-highest-grossing opening of 2022, according to Comscore data. Disney, which saw shares down 3% in early trading Monday, forecast a $135 million to $150 million range.
International markets helped boost the film to $434.5 million after it took in $300.5 million overseas.
Richard Gelfond, CEO of IMAX (IMAX), told Yahoo Finance: “’Avatar: The Way or Water’ is an incredible movie with an A CinemaScore and fantastic word of mouth, and based on our strong presales over the coming weeks, it’s a safe bet that Many moviegoers are waiting until the holidays to enjoy the best possible cinematic experience – that is, IMAX.”
The executive added, “James Cameron’s films have a well-known history of long legs at the global box office, and we expect this film to be no different.”
The film grossed over $48.8 million in global IMAX ticket sales over the weekend, breaking the record for the biggest December opening of all time. It is also the second-highest-grossing opening in IMAX history (the original Avatar is first on the list), with 11.2% of moviegoers choosing to see the film on IMAX screens.
Still, IMAX shares remained under pressure in early trading Monday, down nearly 3%. Theatrical news giants AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Cinemark (CNK) also fell, dropping about 5% and 6%, respectively.
The original “Avatar,” released in 2009, grossed just $77 million in its opening weekend before earning $2.74 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time.
According to box office analytics platform EntTelligence, the sequel should follow similar trends. Preview night and opening day account for just 53% of sales in its opening weekend – a positive sign for long-term success, as it suggests the film isn’t “front-loaded” and may maintain interest over time.
By comparison, 70% or more of the weekend that superhero movies take in typically comes from preview night and opening day. The platform noted that anything below 70% is a strong indicator of potential sustainable success.
The Avatar sequel carried a production budget of over $250 million, which Cameron noted makes it “the worst business case in film history,” and should be the third or fourth highest-grossing film to break even.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Yahoo Finance earlier, noting that the rare film’s release in China would be a “huge benefit” as it looks to add dollars to the box office.
The top overseas market for the sequel was China, with opening weekend ticket sales of $57.1 million. However, that number was starkly below estimates of over $100 million as industry insiders reassess what the film’s eventual performance will look like in the country.
One risk remains China’s COVID-free policy, though recent signs point to a softening in that stance from Beijing. Besides the lack of Hollywood-approved films, China’s theatrical environment has posed a barrier for American films, with the country’s box office down 35% from the same point in 2021, according to data from consulting firm Artisan Gateway cited by Variety.
The original “Avatar” relied heavily on overseas markets with more than $200 million of its $2.74 billion worldwide gross stemming from mainland China.
Alexandra is the chief media and entertainment correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter aliecanal8193 and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the latest Yahoo Finance stock tickers
Click here for the latest stock market news and in-depth analysis, including the events that move stocks
Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance
Download the Yahoo Finance app for an Apple or android
Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter TwitterAnd the FacebookAnd the InstagramAnd the FlipboardAnd the linkedinAnd the Youtube
#Avatar #series #tops #ratings #theater #executives #unimpressed #Moviegoers #waiting