The industry is re-learning that it’s never a good idea to count out James Cameron, whose latest creation AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is defying industry norms by holding steady as the weeks go on. The sequel to Cameron’s original AVATAR grossed $63.4M in its third weekend, registering NO decline from last weekend when moviegoing was held down by widespread winter storms and the Christmas Eve holiday falling on a Saturday.
Before this weekend, some “experts” had suggested that AVATAR 2 was becoming a box office bust, without considering that Cameron’s previous blockbusters TITANIC (1998) and AVATAR (2009) also debuted with lower-than-expected grosses, but continued to generate substantial results for many weeks afterward. In fact, AVATAR continued for a 34-week run in North American theatres and finished with $771M, making it the highest-grossing movie in the U.S. and Canada of all time.
Here are some key facts about the box office for AVATAR 2:
- In its first week in North American theatres, AVATAR 2 produced 144% of the amount earned by AVATAR in its first week in 2009 ($197.7M vs. $137.1M).
- In its second week, AVATAR 2 earned 110% of the amount earned by AVATAR in its second week ($160M vs. $146M).
- After two full weeks, AVATAR 2 stood at 126% of AVATAR’s 2009 results ($358M vs $284M).
- After 17 days, AVATAR 2 earned 120% of AVATAR’s earnings at the same point ($422M vs $352M).
These results do not suggest that AVATAR 2 is coming up short, even though it still needs to earn a lot of money for a long time to make back the estimated $400M it cost to make the film and hundreds of millions of dollars in addition spent on promoting it.
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH came in second place by grossing $16.3M, an increase of 31% from last weekend. After a slow start, the animated feature has rebounded nicely and has reeled in $60.7M to date. PUSS 2 appears well on its way to surpassing $100M before its run is complete. The weekend’s third-place finisher was BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER which earned $4.8M, an increase of 38% from last weekend’s results. After eight weeks in theatres, WAKANDA’s rebound to #3 was somewhat of a pleasant surprise.
WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY finished fourth with $4.3M. Following its weak opening last weekend, the musical biopic dropped another 11% in week two and we do not expect that Sony and TriStar will earn back enough to break even on the film, after having invested $45M to make it.
It is on a $35M path to its final gross. Fifth place went to BABYLON with a gross of $2.8M and a drop of 24%. The film has now officially entered the realm of a full and genuine bust since it will wind up grossing less than $30M and cost $80M to make.
Sony’s A MAN CALLED OTTO debuted in four select theatres in N.Y. and L.A., as it begins a 14-day ramp-up to a wide release. The comedy-drama stars Tom Hanks as a grumpy widower lifted out of his sour mood by boisterous and positive neighbors. OTTO earned a weak $60K at the four theatres, making for a per-location average of $15K which was somewhat lower than its backers had hoped for. Sony will add more runs next week, and play in 2,500 theatres by January 13th, the Friday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.