‘Avatar 2’ is already the 10th highest-grossing movie ever made

‘Avatar 2’ is already the 10th highest-grossing movie ever made

Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick easily took on Jurassic World, Minions and a trio of Marvel movies. But in the end this was no match for James Cameron.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” has surpassed the box office of “Maverick” in just its first three weeks in theaters, amassing $1.51 billion worldwide as of Dec. 16 according to Box Office Mojo data.

The figure makes it the highest-grossing film of 2022 and has allowed it to overtake 2015’s Furious 7 to become the 10th highest-grossing film of all time.

Box office watchers don’t expect “Avatar 2” to slow down anytime soon. The film has a clear runway for continued growth in ticket sales and is expected to have a strong hold on IMAX, Dolby and other premium screen formats until the release of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” next month.

[James Cameron] built a career on films that are a slow burn at the box office, and really shows up again with the sequel.

Shawn Robbins

Principal Analyst, BoxOffice.com

It’s welcome news for Cameron, who claimed ahead of the film’s release that he would need to make at least $2 billion just to break even. Along with the original Avatar ($2.92 billion) and Titanic ($2.2 billion), Cameron has now directed three of the top 10 blockbusters.

“I’m really wondering what kind of legs are going to develop now that we’re off the holidays,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com tells CNBC Make It. “The first famous movie just went on and on and on.”

“[James Cameron] built a career in movies that are a slow burn at the box office, and it really comes out again with the sequel,” he adds.

Avatar’s box office dominance wasn’t a given from the start. The film’s opening weekend failed to meet box office expectations and the winter storms that hit large parts of the country also depressed the audience numbers.

Avatar: The Path of Water

Courtesy Disney Co.

The global appetite for “Avatar 2” helped make the film happen. While “Top Gun” earned $718 million in the United States and $770 million overseas, $1.05 billion of “Avatar’s” ticket sales have come from abroad, with American audiences contributing a relatively modest $464 million since January 6.

“Avatar” isn’t behaving like a typical sequel, either. Most sequels in major franchises normally see box-office returns as fans rush into theaters on opening weekend and then quickly leave week after week, but “Avatar” hasn’t seen any big drops through its first three weeks.

“It’s acting like something people didn’t see back in the day,” Robbins says. “There’s been a return to ‘Avatar’ in a way that makes it somewhat of an original film for a lot of people. They’re reinventing the franchise through this sequel.”

Whether it will be able to match its predecessor and become the highest-grossing film of all time remains to be seen, but Avatar: The Way of Water’s performance so far is pushing the $2 billion forecast to make Cameron look good.

“When that first weekend maybe didn’t meet some of the high-end expectations, she questioned whether she could get there,” Robbins says. “Now here we are and it’s over $1.5 billion and there’s a pretty healthy runway for it. they make up a lot more. So the odds are better than ever.”

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