Avatar: The Way of Water has collected a sizeable $435 million (about Rs. 3,598 crore) at the global box office in its opening weekend. Roughly $301 million (about Rs. 2,490 crore) were pulled from markets outside the US, including India, and the all-too-rare China — the latter has been known for limiting Hollywood theatrical releases in the country ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. As per The Hollywood Reporter, the figures are slightly behind the predicted $450 million (about Rs. 3,923 crore), with the second Avatar movie underperforming in the US and Canada.
As per Disney, in India, Avatar 2 has managed to earn Rs. 160 crore during its opening weekend, crossing the lifetime collection for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which concluded at Rs. 126.94 crore. For a movie that reportedly cost around $400 million (about Rs. 3,310 crore) to produce, the resulting numbers might appear daunting to Disney and 20th Century Studios.
However, the real test for Avatar: The Way of Water is still to come, which depends on how many seats it can fill in the coming weeks and months. The original 2009 Avatar only managed to gross $242 million (about Rs. 2,002 crore) worldwide, during its opening weekend and showed its prowess in the later months, to eventually become the biggest movie of all time. Not to mention, the holiday season has created a lack of competition on the Hollywood front, which could work in favour of the James Cameron-directed sequel.
That said, there are two major hurdles that Avatar: The Way of Water will face. Up first, is the challenge to break even, which is something Cameron has called the “worst business case in movie history.” For Avatar 2 to be deemed profitable, he said, “you have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.” Disney never commented on the exact figures, but reports suggest that the budget is roughly $400 million.
Then there’s the hefty runtime of 3 hours and 12 minutes, which marks Cameron’s second-longest film since 1997’s Titanic. In an interview with Total Film, Cameron claimed that the sequel focuses on its characters and relationships more than the 2009 film, which resulted in the said length. He also claimed that audiences shouldn’t complain about film lengths because of TV, saying, “I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch for eight hours.”
Avatar: The Way of Water is set 15 years after the events of the first film, and sees Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) as parents to five kids, surviving in the lush forests of the exotic moon Pandora. But when the “Sky People,” led by a resurrected Recombinant Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), return, the family flees to the coastal area, meeting up with the Metkayina clan, who teach them the ways of water and help prepare for battle.
Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theatres in India, in English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu.