Avatar: The Way of Water will ring in 2023 in style.
James Cameron’s tentpole is expected to finish the long New Year’s weekend with an estimated $440 million-plus domestically, well ahead of the first Avatar, which came out of the year-end holidays with $352 million on its way to earning north of $750 million domestically (that includes rereleases). The 2009 film still ranks as the top-grossing movie of all time globally with $2.92 billion in ticket sales.
Avatar: The Way of Water will cross $1.4 billion in worldwide ticket sales sometime on Monday after sprinting past the $1.37 billion mark on Sunday (Imax accounts for a huge $152.2 million, the fourth-best showing of all time.) That puts it among the 15 biggest films of all time.
Overseas, the sequel grossed a sizeable $186.7 million for the three-day weekend for a foreign tally of $956.9 million. That includes $152.8 million from China, where the movie has gained strength, $95.1 million from France, $74.9 million from South Korea, $67.2 million from Germany and $54.2 million from the U.K.
In North America, The Way of Water is on course to gross $82.4 million for the four-day holiday weekend. The 20th Century and Disney film is doing far more business than any other year-end release in what’s been a bummer for other Hollywood studios.
This puts overall domestic revenue for 2022 at roughly $7.4 billion, 68 percent ahead of 2021 but 38 percent down from 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Comscore.
The next closest New Year’s performer is DreamWorks Animation and Universal’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which is looking at a four-day gross of $22.2 million for a muted domestic tally of $65.6 million or more. At the foreign box office, the family pic earned another $22.5 million for an international tally of $68.8 million and $134.9 million globally.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has remained a major force and will come in at No. 3 over the long New Year’s weekend with an estimated $6.5 million. That will push the Marvel pic’s global cume to nearly $820 million.
Whitney: Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is expected to follow with a muted $5.4 million for the extended weekend. The biopic, alongside Babylon, opened Dec. 23, two days after Puss in Boots 2 launched (Avatar 2 began its run on Dec. 16).
TriStar’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which cost $45 million to make before marketing, should finish Monday with a tepid domestic total of $16 million. The movie is faring better overseas, grossing $8.3 million from 44 markets for a foreign tally of $13.1 million and $29.1 million globally.
From Paramount, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is an even bigger disappointment, having cost $78 million to produce before marketing. The movie, which will no doubt lose tens of millions, is looking at a four-day gross of just $3.6 million for a domestic total of $11 million through Monday (it isn’t launching overseas until January).
There are no new wide releases over New Year’s weekend.
At the specialty box office, Tom Hanks-starred A Man Called Otto is opening in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The Sony movie should post a pleasing location average of $18,750 for the holiday weekend.
Among other specialty releases, The Whale expanded into more than 600 theaters. The movie should place No. 7 this weekend with an estimated $1.8 million for a domestic total of $6.2 million through Monday.
MGM and UAR’s Women Talking, opening over Christmas in eight locations, grossed an estimated $53,000 this weekend for a location average of $6,625.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.