Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has topped $2 billion at the global box office, making it the third James Cameron film to reach this benchmark.
Only five other films have hit this metric — the original “Avatar,” “Avengers: Endgame,” Cameron’s “Titanic,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
As of Sunday, “The Way of Water” had tallied $598 million from domestic ticket sales and $1.426 billion from foreign markets. The film is the sixth highest-grossing film of all time and will likely move up in the rankings as its run in theaters continues.
“The film has now joined that very exclusive box office club and has made it look almost effortless,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
The box office has struggled to recover in the wake of the pandemic, as audiences shifted to more at-home viewing and fewer films reached the big screen. As the industry rebounds, films like “The Way of Water” have proven that moviegoers are eager to return for big blockbuster spectacles. And many are willing to pay for premium showings like IMAX or large format screens that often come with a higher price tag.
While “The Way of Water” has had a more muted showing than expected in China, the result of a spike in Covid numbers and hospitalizations due to the virus, it has generated strong ticket sales from France, Germany and Korea.
Reaching the $2 billion mark is a good sign for the Avatar franchise, which has three more installments slated for release over the next five years. It also meets the goal set by Cameron, who had previously said the film would need to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history just to break even.
“Keeping in line with Cameron’s ‘king of the box office world’ career trajectory it should come as no surprise that the justification for completion of the director’s vision for the world of Pandora is now undeniably assured and given the stamp of approval by enthusiastic fans around the globe,” Dergarabedian said.
It is unclear what the film’s production budget was, although estimates range from $250 million to $350 million, not including marketing costs.
“The Way of Water” should steadily continue to generate box office receipts as it has no direct competition in theaters until mid-February, when Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” another Disney production, is released.
Sarah Whitten, CNBC
Whitten is a social media writer for CNBC.