Avatar: The Way of Water is set to cross $400 million at the domestic box office this weekend, following a blockbuster day that took in the biggest Thursday haul of 2022 yesterday. The movie took in $20 million yesterday, breaking a record for any non-preview night Thursday this year (a few movies have topped that number for their preview nights ahead of big opening weekends). It dramatically out-earned the second Thursday of the year's biggest blockbuster to date, Top Gun: Maverick. The film is currently sitting at around $358 million at the domestic box office, and will likely surpass $400 million with a $50 million 3-day weekend.
According to a tally assembled by Deadline, the 20th Century Studios/Lightstorm blockbuster has the following daily 2022 records: top and second grossing Thursday, the 2nd and 3rd highest Mondays of the year, the 1st and 2nd highest Tuesdays, and 1st and 3rd highest Wednesday. The film has had an absolutely gigantic international audience, and has a global haul of $1,100,800,853 so far. It's likely the movie will cross the $1.2 billion mark by the end of the weekend.
The fact that the film has a release in China, a huge box office that has largely shunned American blockbuster in recent years, likely helps it quite a bit. While Jurassic World Dominion did hit theaters in China, Top Gun: Maverick did not, and neither did Marvel's 2022 movies.
Avatar: The Way of Water opened at more than $400 million globally, including $134.1 million in North America. That's obviously pretty huge, but it was still underperforming relative to expectations in North America, which had Disney hoping for at least a $150 million opening. Nevertheless, the movie has been an absolute juggernaut internationally, earning over $700 million overseas so far.
Avatar: The Way of Water has to make a lot of money to break even. It is rumored to have been so expensive, that it would need to become one of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time just to turn a profit. While a $134 million opening doesn't feel like "all-time champion" material, it's worth noting that the original Avatar didn't have a bonkers opening. Instead, it had long legs, managing to retain and even grow its audience throughout its theatrical run. There's also the reality that Disney is heavily invested in the world of Avatar, with Pandora theming at some of its parks, which means the movie itself is only part of the story.
Avatar: The Way of Water has received mostly positive reviews from critics. It has a 78% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a consensus that reads, "Narratively, it might be fairly standard stuff -- but visually speaking, Avatar: The Way of Water is a stunningly immersive experience."
Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters.