Will “Avatar: The Way of Water” Live Up to its Box Office Breaking Predecessor?

Staff Writer: Kelsey Wink 

Email: kwink@umassd.edu

Thirteen years after Avatar first landed in theaters on December 18th, 2009, its sequel arrives, and audiences are more than ready to return to Pandora.

James Cameron’s ground-breaking epic Avatar smashed box office records grossing $2.92 billion against a $237 million budget. And finally, Avatar: The Way of Water landed in theaters on Friday, December 16th, 2022. The writer-director has been promoting the three-hour-long highly-anticipated, and repeatedly delayed follow-up. 

Critics’ reviews are rolling in, and it seems this film will live up to the unparalleled success of the first. 

All of this is to say that it’s a movie-going event you don’t want to miss out on. So here’s everything you need to know for the movie, Avatar: The Way of Water.

What happened in the first film?

Because it has been a while, let’s do a quick refresh on the original Avatar movie, which stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, and Kate Winslet. 

In the film, humans are colonizing Pandora, a habitable moon that a native and intelligent human-like species called the Na’vi call home. Humans are drawn to Pandora because it is a rare and valuable mineral source. 

(Image via pinterest.com)

Because the air on Pandora is poisonous to humans, they must live in pods and use their brains to control avatars that have the same abilities and looks as the blue-colored Na’vi. 

Sam Worthington’s character, Jake Sully, goes against his fellow man when their presence and intensive mining threatens Pandora’s ecosystem.

What can you expect in the second film?

Avatar: The Way of Water is set more than a decade after the previous film’s events. Jake and his family are forced to leave their home and explore new terrains. 

While the first Avatar film introduced us to the rainforest world of Pandora, the second focuses on the moon’s oceans and the people/creatures who live in them.

The reef-dwelling Metkayina tribe takes center stage in this film but expect to see more corporate greed from the Resources Development Administration, the human organization plowing Pandora for valuable natural resources.

(Image via somagnews.com)

The official synopsis reads: “Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.”

The Way of Water sets the scene for the next three sequels but is also designed to be a stand-alone story. James Cameron has said some filming for Avatar 3 and 4 are already wrapped.

How is the movie fairing so far? 

Avatar: The Way of Water has crossed the half-a-billion mark in global ticket sales, earning more than $550 million at the box office less than a week after the film’s release in theaters. 

Following the film’s strong opening numbers, Cameron posted a video on Twitter thanking audiences for seeing the film “as it was always meant to be seen.” 

In the lead-up to the movie, he’s been going out of his way to stress that this and its predecessor are big experiences worth going to the cinemas for. “For me, this film has been a deeply personal journey,” said Cameron. “It’s incredibly gratifying that already, so many of you have watched it on the big screen.”

However, with its current budget of $350 million, the James Cameron-directed movie still has a long way to go to be considered profitable, a number north of $2 billion. In five days, the film became one of eight films released this year to bring in more than $500 million in revenue, according to Variety. 

On Tuesday, December 20, “Way of Water” sold $18.3 million tickets in the United States and over $40 million across the world.

A breakdown of its current box office sales shows $168.6 million in domestic sales and $378.3 million internationally. 

Due to a slowdown in movie attendance following the pandemic, “Way of Water” is unlikely to reach the same level of profitability as the original film. Experts estimate that the film will decline by approximately 40% of its original $134 million opening week debut next weekend. 

Nevertheless, returning to the world of the Na’vi on Pandora is certainly an experience adults and children alike will wholeheartedly enjoy. 

Avatar: The Way of Water Trailer

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