The Way of Water’ Rules Over New Year’s, Global Gross Hits $1.38 Billion

Audiences rang in 2023 with a trip to Pandora, as James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” continued to dominate the holiday box office.

The ambitious — and staggeringly expensive — science-fiction epic has been in the works for years, blowing past several release dates as Cameron figured out a way to expand his story of a race of alien creatures struggling against hostile invaders. He also labored to create new technology that would allow him to do performance capture work underwater. The wait appears to have been worth it. “Avatar: The Way of Water” brought in a projected $63.4 million domestically over New Year’s weekend and is expected to generate $82.4 million over the four-day holiday (most people have Monday off and many of them will apparently be spending that day with the Na’vi).

But all that innovation didn’t come cheap and Cameron has suggested that in order to turn a profit for Disney, the company that bought the rights to “Avatar” when it purchased much of 21st Century Fox in 2019, the movie will need to be one of the highest-grossing films in history. Sources put “Avatar: The Way of Water’s” break-even point at roughly $1.4 billion, a figure it is on the precipice of passing.

Here’s where things stand. So far, the film has earned $421.6 million domestically and $956.9 million internationally. Its global gross stands at $1.38 billion. The “Avatar” sequel is now the fifteenth highest global release of all-time, just behind “Black Panther” and ahead of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” So it’s in some pretty rarefied commercial company.

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