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