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‘Avatar’ Sequel Tops $2.1 Billion At Worldwide Box Office This Weekend


Avatar: The Way of Water continues its remarkable theatrical run with another milestone this weekend. Writer-director James Cameron’s Avatar sequel will top $2.1 billion worldwide at the box office this weekend, and still has plenty of gas in the tank.

But now we must prepare for Titanic’s 25th anniversary limited return to screens, setting up a potential slugfest between Cameron’s two blockbusters for the #3 spot on all-time box office lists. Titanic currently sits at $2.194 billion, but will significantly increase that total with its remastered 4K HDR 3D rerelease in February.

Avatar: The Way of Water, meanwhile, will do its best to catch up and surpass Titanic, but it all depends on whether Titanic’s momentum carries it toward $2.3 billion while Avatar 2’s momentum finally starts to wane in the face of multiple competitors for screens and viewers as the month progresses.

Besides Titanic, February also brings Marvel Studio’s inevitable blockbuster sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to multiplexes around the globe, pushing Avatar: The Way of Water off of even more screens. Knock at the Cabin will take over some premium venues on February 3rd, as will Titanic on February 10th, so by the time Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on February 17th, it will be hard for the Avatar sequel to maintain much momentum to help it reach $2.3 billion.

MORE FROM FORBES‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Makes History With $2 Billion Box Office

Even passing $2.2 billion will be more of a struggle for Avatar: The Way of Water, since this is the last weekend for it to dominate box office without much competition and with most screens at its disposal.

But hopefully we’ve all learned by now never to underestimate a James Cameron movie. So it’s still possible that other challengers will stall or perform in ways that don’t pull much audience from Avatar 2, and it’s even possible the film will go wider again if theaters see a decline in weekly box office as other movies take up more of their screens.

It’s also likely that Avatar: The Way of Water will wind up getting at least one rerelease, be it later this year or next year, probably with additional never-before-seen footage. Likewise, I expect a rerelease in 2024 ahead of the arrival of Avatar 3 at Christmas that year. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that rereleased Avatar movies perform big.

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So even if Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t make it past $2.3 billion — and even if it surprisingly winds up shy of $2.2 billion — I have little doubt that the sci-fi sequel will eventually inevitably pass Titanic’s box office results to become the third-highest grossing movie in cinema history.

Which will most likely happen just ahead of Avatar 3’s arrival in 2024, and that film will itself climb those same all-time box office charts and wind up sitting somewhere in the top five, probably the top four, alongside Cameron’s Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Titanic.

So as I’ve said before, by sometime around February of 2025, James Cameron will almost certainly have four of the top five highest grossing movies of all time. No other filmmaker has come close to this level of success — critically and financially, simultaneously — and especially in such a relatively short period of time.

MORE FROM FORBESReview: ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Is 2022’s Biggest, Most Ambitious Film

At what point do we stop ignoring it as coincidence or some other external factors, and start discussing the question, “What is it about James Cameron’s films that speak so consistently strongly to large audiences across the entire planet? What is different in his filmmaking, his themes, his stories, that makes him particularly unique in this regard?”

Trying to answer with generalities and this or that broad example of genre plus budget plus timing, or any other mixture of external and impersonal factors unrelated to the films’ content and Cameron’s filmmaking, is inevitably going to fail as an explanation. Plenty of other films are full of terrific genre storytelling wrapped in amazing visual effects, grand spectacle, popular franchises and performers, and benefit from convenient timing and social conditions. Plenty of filmmakers consistently turn out such content and are widely hailed for their efforts and their results.

But they still don’t manage the level of combined success, acclaim, and love enjoyed by so many of Cameron’s films. Do I need to say it again? Cameron is going to have four of the five highest-grossing movies of all time, at a level far beyond most any other films’ ability to compete. It’s not just that they were successful or that they met the thresholds of the all-time charts, it’s that they were so far beyond what anything else accomplished right up to today, with only a very few movies capable of such overwhelming embrace by audiences and critics.

Besides Avengers movies, nothing else consistently performs at record-setting levels, and only two of those Avengers films — Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame — played at the hyper-elite $2+ billion level.

No, any denial of Cameron’s uniqueness in this regard or that it’s something special about his films in particular, is just resentment and sour grapes. The evidence is clear and undeniable now, and it’s worth diving into to really figure out at some point.

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But that’s a task for another day, so I’ll be back with that discussion later. For now, Avatar: The Way of Water is another historic release from Cameron and it has already proven doubters wrong. This franchise is here to stay, it has a big cultural impact, and that impact will only continue to increase over the years.

Be sure to check back here soon, dear readers, for more updates, reviews, and box office news. I’ll have it all for you for the rest of the month and into February, as I continue to track and report on Avatar: The Way of Water’s phenomenal run, the return of Titanic to the big-screen, and the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

So stay tuned, and be sure to wear a mask if you venture out to theaters this weekend — Covid is still surging, the pandemic isn’t over, new variants are circulating, and there are many other people who are at higher risk of severe outcomes or death. Protect yourself and everyone else, and mask up!

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