Despite having what looks to be a record-breaking run, Avatar: The Way of Water will not finish in the top three at the domestic box office in 2022. The long-awaited sequel to the 2009 blockbuster Avatar sees the return of director James Cameron and several original ensemble members, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver. The picture has taken only two weeks to gather over $1 billion worldwide, but it has struggled to rise as swiftly in the United States due to bad weather and stiff competition.
With the four-day New Year’s holiday weekend behind it, Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to bring in an additional $433.1 million worldwide, as reported by Deadline. With only one day remaining to accrue its 2022 total, it will not make the cut for the Top 3 domestic films of the year before New Year’s Day. It is expected to surpass Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($411.3 million), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ($433.1 million), and Top Gun: Maverick ($718.3 million) to become the fourth most-grossing film of all time.
Where do you think Avatar: The Way of Water will land in the United States when the dust settles?
Especially in North America, the fate of the expensive Avatar: The Way of Water is a complete mystery. Cameron has claimed that $2 billion is merely the break-even point, so after a lacklustre opening weekend that went well below forecasts at $134 million, some experts worried that it wouldn’t be able to reach that goal. While it hasn’t broken any records, the film has maintained a solid hold at the box office, even posting the greatest Wednesday of the year during its second week and increasing in its third Friday over its second Friday.
But the film’s overall box office has been declining with each passing weekend, as is typical for brand-new theater releases. There is still a need for the picture to earn $352.1 million more domestically to reach the amount of the first Avatar. This is easily achievable if it can keep its current audience size for the next seven weeks. Although that may be challenging, it will face little competition in January, with just Blumhouse’s M3GAN on January 6, 2023, and maybe the relaunch of House Party on January 13, 2023, scheduled for broad release.
Even if Avatar: The Way of Water outperforms the original Avatar, it would still only be the fourth-highest domestic grossing film of all time. While it’s not unprecedented for a sequel to earn more money than its predecessor, it would be astonishing if this picture managed to leapfrog over the likes of Avengers: Endgame ($859.3 million) and Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens ($936.6 million). Time will tell if it will unseat Spider-Man: No Way Home ($814.1 million) from the top spot, but the film does have a chance.