Avatar 2 Defies The Odds And Surprises Everyone With Latest Performance

Avatar: The Way of Water grossed $90 million at the box office over the holiday weekend.

By Nathan Kamal | Updated

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Avatar: The Way of Water had a surprisingly successful Christmas weekend performance at the box office, defying expectations that the James Cameron film would have a sharp second-weekend drop-off. According to Variety, Avatar: The Way of Water grossed $64 million at the domestic box office during the weekend, bumped up to $90 million by the holiday weekend. As of right now, the sequel to the highest-grossing film ever has grossed $287 million in the US since its release 10 days ago. 

While many movies might call that enormous dollar amount an outright success, Avatar: The Way of Water has to achieve much higher box office returns in order to match the first movie. The 2009 Avatar film has crushed so many box office records that there is a full and extensive Wikipedia page to track them all, but it all can be summed up with an astonishing $2.92 billion total global gross. Expectations are high for the second film in the long-developing series, particularly as Avatar: The Way of Water reportedly had a much higher budget than the first movie; some estimates list it as $460 million, compared to Avatar’s $237 million. 

Although Avatar: The Way of Water has to compete with its predecessor at both the box office and public consciousness, it roundly defeated all theatrical rivals this weekend. Damian Chazelle’s Babylon grossed a mere $3.6 million upon release, despite the presence of highly bankable stars like Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt; this can partly be explained by polarized reviews and a runtime of over three hours, which can alienate viewers (well, unless it’s a Marvel movie) and reduce the number of showings possible a day. 

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The Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, starring Naomi Ackie, did slightly better than Babylon, grossing $4.7 million, while Puss in Boots: The Last Wish finished with a comparatively solid $12 million. However, pretty much all other movies were dwarfed by Avatar: The Way of Water at the box office, even with the science fiction epic suffering over a 50% dropoff since its release date (which to be fair, is not a disastrous number for a second weekend).

Another element that probably diminished the chances of any movie overtaking Avatar at the box office: the cold weather patterns that have ground numerous parts of the country to a halt. While we can not really speculate what would make Avatar fans brave subzero temperatures for a second weekend, it seems not to be shared by lovers of Shrek spin-offs or Hollywood period pieces.

While this Christmas weekend was a strong indication that Avatar: The Way of Water might have the kind of legs that made the first movie a box-office sensation, it still has a long way to go before recouping its budget. Avatar 3 has already been completed and is in post-production, so we know we will get at least one more of these James Cameron movies. According to the director, the rest is pretty much up to us.