Oalt Disney Co. has lowered its forecast for Avatar: The Way of the Wateropening weekend, after the film made $53 million in its first two days of domestic release.
It earned an additional $127.1 million in international markets in three days, Disney said in a statement Saturday.
The company offered The way of the water would gross between $130 million and $150 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters in its opening weekend. It previously forecast more than $150 million.
While that would still put it alongside the biggest movies of the year, the results could be a disappointment for movie chains who were anticipating an even stronger showing.
Revenue compares to a $52 million opening for Paramount Global’s Top Gun: Maverick in May and $48.2 million for Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru in July during their first two days, according to data from Comscore Inc. The results were lower than recent superhero movie releases, such as Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverwhich tend to generate early foot traffic from fans looking for clues about future storylines.
The way of the water is the sequel to 2009 Avatar, the highest-grossing picture of all time with $2.92 billion in box office receipts. It’s potentially the biggest movie franchise to come from Disney’s $71 billion purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019. The production costs alone for The way of the water have been reported by various media outlets to be over $350 million. Disney shot two pictures at once, as part of an overall plan to have five films in all through 2028.
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The first one Avatar became a cultural phenomenon, with its dazzling special effects ushering in a new era for 3D cinema. Lots of people have seen it again and again, a much larger audience than those normally interested in sci-fi movies, notes David Herrin, founder of Quorum, a film research company. Herrin’s analysis suggests that the sequel resonates most with men over 35.
“The first ‘Avatar’ saw an average decline of 13.6% in weekend-over-week ticket sales in its first seven weeks in theaters, which we believe could be challenging to emulate for the future,” said Kevin Near and Geetha Ranganathan, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence. a research note. “Lightweight theatrical competition can be overshadowed by big-budget streaming releases.”
The way of the water is one of the widest releases in Disney history, debuting on more than 12,000 screens in the United States and Canada and 40,000 internationally. It is released simultaneously worldwide in all countries, a rarity in the industry.
At three hours and 12 minutes, the film’s runtime could limit the number of people who see it, as theaters cannot schedule as many screenings per day with such long films.
In Thursday previews, 61% saw it on 3D screens. While this more expensive format drives up average ticket prices, it can also limit viewership as fans wait for the best seats in theaters with 3D screens.
Either way, the image will have a chance to continue generating revenue for weeks to come. Only four other films are getting wide releases in the United States this month, half the number pre-pandemic times, according to Comscore data.
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The way of the water follows the story of a moon called Pandora and the colonization that threatens the native Na’vi humanoid race that inhabits it. It has 78% of reviewers recommending it, according to review site RottenTomatoes.com.
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