After years of hype and anticipation, the sequel to James Cameron’s epic science fiction film is finally almost here. With Avatar: The Way of Water only a few days from its worldwide theatrical release, Deadline reports that it is expected to debut $525 million at the global box office, indicating that Cameron may be King of the World once again.
Domestically, the film is tracking to launch between $150 million and $175 million on its opening weekend, more than double the original film’s $77 million debut. So far, domestic pre-sales for the film total $38 million, which puts the film ahead of Top Gun: Maverick, the current highest-grossing movie of the year, but behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, with the holiday movie season in full swing, and a lack of significant competition in the following weeks, Avatar: The Way of Water has the potential to hold some strong legs at the box office.
Alongside the upcoming sequel’s sizable domestic opening, early tracking estimates the film will splash its way to a $350 million debut overseas, which puts it ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s $320 million last December. $100 million of its overseas gross will be coming from China, with an estimated $21.8 million from ticket pre-sales alone. The release of the anticipated sequel follows the re-opening of 80% of China’s theaters following COVID-related lockdowns earlier this year, which will help the movie’s global reach.
The first Avatar is fondly remembered by many for its groundbreaking use of stereoscopic 3D technology, which is why it’s no surprise that audiences will be returning to Pandora in the same format as well. In Europe, 81% of pre-sales are for 3D showings, with 70% in Asia Pacific and 65% in Latina America, indicating the technology still has a place in theaters after recently losing steam.
Early reviews for the film have so far been positive, with praise directed at its stunning visuals, groundbreaking effects, and heart-racing action sequences. Collider’s Ross Bonaime praised the film, calling it an improvement from the first, and stating, “As with the first Avatar, the look of The Way of Water is immediately stunning. The higher frame rate and the 3D technology make this a film unlike anything we’ve ever seen.” So far, the film has earned an 84% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, which falls similarly in line with the first movie’s 82% rating. Should the film capture the imagination of audiences once again, strong word-of-mouth could spearhead the long-awaited sequel to become another phenomenon.
Avatar: The Way of Water splashes into theaters on December 16. Check out the official trailer for the upcoming sequel below.