Box Office: Avatar: The Way of Water: Disney and 20th Century Studios’ film “The Way of Water” had a successful opening at the box office, earning $53 million on its first day from 4,202 theaters. This includes $17 million from Thursday preview screenings. It ranks as the sixth highest-grossing opening day of the year in the domestic market. However, it falls behind movies like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Jurassic World Dominion,” and “The Batman.” Comparatively, it performed much better than the first “Avatar” film, which had an opening day of $26.7 million back in 2009. The sequel benefited from Thursday previews and the anticipation built over the years.
All eyes are on “The Way of Water” as it aims to have a successful run at the box office. It’s not every weekend that theaters get a sequel to the highest-grossing film ever. When the first “Avatar” was released in 2009 and had an opening weekend of $77 million, many reports were initially disappointed by the performance. This was due to the film’s highly anticipated production process and director James Cameron’s previous box office success with “Titanic,” which was the highest-grossing film at that time. However, “Avatar” continued to do well with premium format surcharges and impressive longevity in theaters. It eventually surpassed “Titanic” to become the highest-grossing film of all time.
With minimal competition during the holiday season, “The Way of Water” is aiming for a successful run driven by positive word-of-mouth. The film has garnered strong reviews from some critics, although opinions are not entirely unanimous. Currently, it holds a 73% approval rating from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate website for reviews. However, general audiences appear to be more enthusiastic, as the film has earned an “A” grade from Cinema Score, a research firm that measures audience reactions. This indicates strong approval among the initial wave of ticket buyers.
It isn’t just a matter of seeing if Cameron’s latest can fully justify its whopping reported $350 million production budget (much less match the financial success of his previous films). “The Way of Water” comes at a time when exhibitors are thirsting for an event to drum up business through the holidays. Total box office grosses for the year will likely finish an alarming chunk down from pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. And after an auspicious summer season featuring a variety of hits, theater foot traffic has dwindled through the fall season, with little other than “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” really drawing crowds.
In terms of box office performance, the superhero sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has now become the second highest-grossing film of the year domestically. It has surpassed the $411 million gross of another Marvel film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” “Wakanda Forever” is expected to earn around $5 million over the weekend, which will further increase its total domestic gross to $418 million.
Universal’s holiday action film “Violent Night” could potentially compete with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” for the second spot at the box office. It is projected to earn around $5 million over the weekend, which is a 42% decrease compared to its previous outing. The total domestic gross for “Violent Night” currently stands at a respectable $30 million.
Box Office: Avatar: The Way of Water: Disney’s “Strange World” is expected to secure the fourth position at the box office. It earned approximately $510,000 on Friday, bringing its total domestic ticket sales to around $30 million. Despite its significant production budget of $180 million, the film’s performance has been disappointing.
“The Menu” from Searchlight Pictures is expected to occupy the fifth spot, with projected earnings of $1.5 million in its fifth weekend of release. The culinary comedy has been successful in attracting a sizable audience, with domestic ticket sales exceeding $30 million. This achievement sets it apart as one of the few specialty films to find significant success in recent months.