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The Hollywood Insider Avatar 2 The Way of Water Box Office Earnings

Photo: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ 

With the end of the fourth weekend for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, the global box office gross nears $2 billion, fortifying the studio’s plans for the next installments. The long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time has finally arrived. Within the opening weekend of the release on December 16, 2022, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ grossed over 400 million dollars globally and over 130 million dollars domestically. This milestone brought the ‘Avatar’ sequel in third place for the biggest global opening weekend amidst the coronavirus pandemic. After its second weekend, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ garners about 900 million dollars globally, breaking it into the top 80 highest-grossing movies of all time. 900 million is an impressive total gross for a film in its second weekend, though the box office has seen about a 51% decline in its gross. However, the film’s second weekend took place over two major events that could have played a part in the seemingly steep drop.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ – Full Commentary & Reactions

The first one is that it fell directly over Christmas Eve and Christmas respectively. The second major event was the blizzard that overtook much of the United States from December 22 to December 25. Luckily, the following weekends leading up to its month-long lifetime in theaters proved the film’s stability. With its third weekend grossing around $63.4 million, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ becomes the fourth best third weekend of all time. Now, after its fourth weekend, the ‘Avatar’ sequel has continued to lead the box office, grossing $45 million between Friday and Sunday. Currently, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ holds a global revenue of over $1.7 billion, making it the highest grossing film of 2022 and the seventh highest grossing film of all time, ahead of ‘Jurassic World’ but around $200 million behind ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’. 

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Breaking Down the Speculation that the Sequel Must Gross $2 Billion to Break Even

One of the appalling pieces of news that the world learned about the sequel film is the budget that went into the film. Although it seems to be speculation, considering hard numbers for the film’s entire production and marketing budget were not released, it was rumored that the film would need to gross 2 billion dollars in order to break even. Deriving from a quote by James Cameron, the director of the franchise, where Cameron stated that “[‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ would] have to be the third highest-grossing film in history. That’s your break even,” many took that as Cameron implying that the film must be the third or fourth highest grossing film globally. If this is correct, then that implication would mean that the ‘Avatar’ sequel would need to surpass ‘Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens’, which grossed almost $2.07 billion worldwide. What would make more sense is if Cameron was speaking in the subtext of a domestic box office, which would mean that the second ‘Avatar’ film would need to surpass its first film at $785 million or ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ at $814 million.

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ – Second Full Commentary & Reactions

With a speculated production budget of $250-460 million (speculated due to different reports from many sources), it does not seem likely that a studio would allow a film to spend $1.75-1.54 billion on marketing alone. A more realistic expectation from Cameron’s statement would be a domestic box office implication, meaning his marketing would only cost around $350 million to $560 million (from subtracting the gross of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ from the speculated production budget). It is entirely possible that Cameron was speaking about the global box office, but with no concrete answers from the executives themselves, it is difficult to depict. 

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‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ – The Hype and Anti-Hype

As the first ‘Avatar’ is the highest-grossing film of all time, there are lots of fans that excitedly awaited the release of the sequel which was released thirteen years after the first. Though there are many loyal fans of the franchise, as proven by the $400 million opening weekend, in the developing times of cultural appropriation awareness and woke culture, it has become a growing internet topic on the morality of viewing the film. As Cameron has stated, creating the Na’vi (the blue species in the franchise), he pulled characteristics from Black culture and more so Indigenous people from all over but mainly the Maori, who are the Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. In light of and spread of this news to create awareness that this white creator based his fictional species off of these real cultures and people, it has sparked many debates on the existence of a hidden racist agenda or cultural insensitivity in the ‘Avatar’ series.

Those opposed to the franchise would mention the unlikeability of the first film due to its “white savior complex” since the film consisted of the white character being the leading savior of the world he was set out to destroy. A rising hatred for the film grew with that awareness along with many realizations that the film’s glamor may have just been the (at the time) revolutionary CGI heavy film, which the world is now spoiled of from the plethora of Marvel films, instead of the actual story and plot. Those on the internet were not anticipating success for the film due to this, but the numbers from the first two weekends negated their expectations.

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Plans for the Future of the Franchise

Contingent upon the sequel receiving great numbers, the franchise is expected to release seven ‘Avatar’ films. The release dates are already set for the third, fourth, and fifth film on December 22, 2023, December 19, 2025, and December 17, 2027 respectively. Cameron stated in an interview that he does have plans for a sixth and seventh film. Those films will probably need to wait for the numbers to come in for the third and fourth film before they get the green light, but it seems the numbers for the second film will encourage the studio to let Cameron proceed with production on the forthcoming films with release dates. The third ‘Avatar’ film’s title has been revealed to be ‘Avatar: The Seed Bearer’. 

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is now available in theaters. 

By Nino Vongphachanh 

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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