The King of the World has earned a new set of bragging rights.
James Cameron now has three films that made more than $2 billion – Avatar: The Way of Water, Titanic, and the original Avatar. The sequel is only the sixth film to hit the $2 billion milestone ($2.024 billion, to be exact).
Pundits are predicting that soon, Avatar 2 will go past Avengers: Infinity War and Star Wars VII – Episode VII – The Force Awakens to become the fourth biggest all-time biggest hit. When that happens, which is expected to be late this week, Cameron will have three of the highest-grossing movies ever: Avatar (at number one), Avengers: Endgame (number two), Titanic (number three), and Avatar 2 (number four).
But to put the $2 billion-plus earnings of the Avatar sequel in perspective, its production budget was more than $350 million. And add to that the tens of millions of dollars devoted to market and promoting the film. Cameron was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying that his Avatar sequel has to be “the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” to at least break even.
Worldwide, IMAX contributed $227 million to the sequel’s earnings so far, making the return of the Na’vi the second biggest moneymaker in that format’s history.
The recent weekend saw the movie, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, and Sigourney Weaver, reeling in another $56.3 million internationally. The biggest markets of Cameron’s visually stunning sequel are China, Korea, Italy, the United Kingdom, India, Spain, Australia, and Mexico.
As the biggest overseas market for the Avatar sequel, China has sold $229.7 million worth of tickets so far.
But on the first weekend of the Lunar New Year celebration, the hottest ticket sellers in the world’s biggest movie market were homegrown movies – the action/adventure/sci-fi The Wandering Earth II, starring Andy Lau, Zina Blahusova and Jing Wu, $69.7 million; Yimou Zhang’s drama-history, Full River Red, with Teng Shen, Jackson Yee, and Yi Zhang, $59.4 million; and Er Cheng’s Hidden Blade, featuring Tony Leung, Yibo Wang, and Xun Zhou, $20.1 million.
One of two other releases that are keeping the New Year box office scenario looking bright is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Offshore, the latest Puss in Boots installment is nearing the $300 million worldwide milestone. It’s currently at $297.5 million.
Also having the advantage of being released in China, the Joel Crawford-Januel Mercado-directed sequel “swashbuckled” its way to $17.8 million in over 70 territories.
Babylon, top-billed by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, and Jean Smart, and directed by Damien Chazelle, opened in more than 50 territories and collected $13.2 million.
M3GAN, the other release that has been helping keep the turnstiles turning, netted $10.9 million overseas for an offshore total of $51.3 million so far. The film about an AI doll is huge in Brazil, which is reportedly keen on the horror genre. M3GAN sold $1.4 million in tickets the previous weekend.
In the domestic market, these films topped the box office chart, in this order: Avatar: The Way of Water, $19.7 million ($597.9 million after six weeks); Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, $11.5 million; Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick’s Missing, a drama-thriller which bowed with $9.3 million; M3GAN, $9.1 million; and Tom Hanks’ A Man Called Otto, $9 million.
Comprising the rest of the top ten were: Gerard Butler’s Plane, $5.3 million; House Party, $1.77 million; That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond, an anime spin-off, which debuted with $1.459 million; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, $1.39 million; and The Whale, $1.28 million.