'Avatar: The Way Of Water'

Source: Disney

‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’

World box office December 16-18

Rank Film (distributor) 3-day (world)  Cume (world) 3-day (int’l) Cume (int’l)  Territories
 1. Avatar: The Way Of Water  (Disney)  $434.5m  $434.5m  $300.5m  $300.5m 53
 2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever  (Disney)  $9.2m   $786.5m  $3.8m  $367.5m 51
 3. Violent Night (Universal) $7.3m  $55.1m  $2.3m  $20.1m 76
 4. Strange World  (Disney) $4.1m  $60.3m  $1.9m  $26.5m 31
 5. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish (Universal) $3.9m  $13.6m  $3.9m  $13.6m 25
 6. The Menu (Disney) $3.2m  $64.3m  $1.5m  $32.2m 27
 7. Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical  (Netflix) $1.7m  $15.6m   $1.7m  $15.6m 2
 8. The Owl (various) $1.6m  $20m  $1.6m  $20m 1
 9. Mechamto Movie (various) $1.4m  $4m  $1.4m  $4m 1
 10. Neposlushnik (various) $1.4m  $1.4m  $1.4m  $1.4m 2

Credit: Comscore, click top right to expand. All figures are estimates.

Premium formats drive ‘Avatar’ sequel box office

UPDATE: Disney’s Avatar: The Way Of Water achieved the highest opening of the pandemic era in key markets France, Germany and India, as well as 13 smaller territories including Turkey, Poland and Portugal.

In total, the James Cameron sequel delivered a confirmed $307.6m in 52 international markets plus $134m in North America, combining for a confirmed $441.6m worldwide.

That number is the third-highest opening of the pandemic era, behind Spider-Man: No Way Home ($660.8m) and Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness ($452.4m).

While The Way Of Water has not delivered the biggest opening of the pandemic era, despite the benefit of releasing in China (where it earned a confirmed $56.8m), there are a few factors suggesting the film may enjoy a relatively sustained run.

One is the lengthy, 192-minutes running time, meaning that cinemas can programme fewer showtimes per day – the reduced capacity pushing audiences into later dates in the run.

Another is the strong showing for premium large formats including 3D, 4D and Imax, accounting for 62% of box office in North America and 67% internationally. Again, those screens are likely to have sold out for key evening showtimes, and many cinemagoers would rather wait to see the film on a premium screen rather than watch in 2D on opening weekend.

Additionally, the first Avatar showed extremely strong legs – for example, in UK and Ireland, the film debuted with £6.7m (plus £1.8m in previews) on its opening weekend, going on to achieve a final total of £94.0m – a multiple of 14 times the opening number. A sequel will typically perform differently to an original film, ie with a more front-loaded skew, but The Way Of Water may sustain better than an average sequel.

Internationally, The Way Of Water scored its best number in China, followed by South Korea ($24.9m), Germany ($19.4m), France ($21.7m), India ($19.2m) and UK/Ireland ($13.6m). The pandemic-era opening record was achieved in France despite the country’s participation in the FIFA World Cup final on Sunday afternoon. All numbers are confirmed via Disney as of Monday.

Imax screens accounted for $48.8m of the $441.6m confirmed global total – 11%. It’s the second highest global weekend ever for a film on Imax.

The Way Of Water has only 13 more days of play left in 2022, and will likely struggle to match the top titles of the year (led by Top Gun: Maverick with $1.49bn) within the calendar year. For the second weekend of play, the film faces the challenge that Sunday is Christmas day, which will dent box office in markets including UK/Ireland.

However, Disney will be hoping that The Way Of Water can ultimately become the top-grossing title released in 2022 (ie including its 2023 box office). The film is chasing the $2.92bn achieved by the original Avatar. That 2009 release grossed a towering $117m in Russia – a slice of box office that will be missing from the pie in the case of The Way Of Water.

'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

Source: Disney

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ leads chasing pack

Avatar: The Way Of Water predictably sucked much of the air out of the market for the holdover titles, which typically fell by hefty amounts from the previous weekend. However, the rival films were not totally wiped out.

Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever grossed an estimated $9.2m for its sixth weekend of play, taking the global total to $786.5m. The overall drop was 60% from the previous session.

The past week saw Wakanda Forever overtake The Batman to become the fifth highest-grossing film of the year globally, behind Top Gun: Maverick, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Jurassic World Dominion and Minions: The Rise Of Gru.

Wakanda Forever has so far reached 58% of the $1.35bn lifetime total achieved by the original Black Panther. That film was boosted by $124m for China and Russia, where the sequel is not set to play.

Also for Disney, animation Strange World added another estimated $4.1m globally (declining 44%), taking the total to $60.3m. Disney announced that the film will be available for the home on digital on December 23 – a relatively speedy segue into the home given the film’s November 23 theatrical release date.

‘Violent Night’ hits $55m

Universal’s Violent Night offers a breezy alternative to audiences not seeking a return to James Cameron’s Pandora. The festive action comedy grossed an estimated $7.3m in its third session, down 44% from the previous weekend, taking the global total to $55.1m. UK/Ireland leads the international pack with a $3.3m total, ahead of Mexico on $1.7m.

Also for Universal, DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots: The Last Wish enjoyed a second weekend of play in 25 early international markets, adding an estimated $3.9m (down 38%), and taking the total to $13.6m.

France remains the hero market, declining just 25% at the weekend, and now at $5.0m. Italy comes next with a $2.6m total.

The Last Wish lands in North America and Spain this Wednesday (December 21), and then Germany and Mexico the next day and China on Friday. Australia follows on December 26, with key markets South Korea, Brazil, UK/Ireland and Japan all to follow in 2023.