Avatar: The Way of Water has left port.
James Cameron’s high-profile sequel opened Wednesday in its first handful of international markets, grossing $15.8 million to date from 15 reported territories, including France, Korea and Germany.
Korea led international territories, with $3.3 million in ticket sales, followed by France, with $2.9 million. Across Europe, including Italy and Sweden, the movie opened at the No. 1 spot in all markets, with 71 percent of box office coming from 3D and other premium formats.
Outside of the 15 reported markets, the film is in previews in several other territories, including in Latin America. Those figures are not yet included in the $15.8 million gross to date internationally as they are still previews. They include grosses of $1.5 million in Mexico and $1.0 million in Brazil, with a total of $4.4 million across the whole Latin America region, where 55 percent of came from 3D and other premium formats. Elsewhere, there were $1.3 million of previews in Australia, not included in the gross-to-date. China saw advanced screenings of Avatar 2 on Wednesday, ahead of a Friday opening, with $2.6 million in ticket sales from 1,688 showings.
By Friday, The Way of Water will be playing in tens of thousands of theaters around the world, including more than 4,100 locations in North America. The 20th Century/Disney release is expected to score a domestic debut of $150 million to $175 million for a global debut of $450 million to $550 through Sunday.
There are, of course, challenges.
The film’s running time is a hefty three hours and 12 minutes, meaning fewer showtimes (at the same time, it faces almost no competition).
Another major variable is China, where Avatar 2 is one of the few recent Hollywood tentpoles to receive a release. As fate would have it, however, there is a major COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing, resulting in some theater closures. (The original Avatar grossed over $200 million during its original run in the country.)
The Way of Water, costing $350 million to $400 million to produce before marketing, opens 13 years after the first Avatar became the top-grossing film of all time worldwide, a record it still holds with more than $2.92 billion in ticket sales, not adjusted for inflation.
Cameron produced The Way of Water alongside his longtime Lightstorm partner Jon Landau. The movie stars Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang, and once again centers on Worthington’s Sully and Saldaña’s Na’vi character, Neytiri. It picks up a decade after the original and follows their family, with additional stars including franchise newcomers Vin Diesel and Kate Winslet.