$2 billion in revenue – the (im)possible goal of “Avatar: The Nature of Water”
Whoever talks to you, know that it’s about money.
This applies in full force to the new movie hit “Avatar: The Nature of Water”. The sequel to 2009’s sci-fi film Avatar has hit theaters after a 13-year wait, and reviews are very good so far. But it’s not reviews that drive the movie industry.
Director James Cameron raised the bar even before the premiere of his new film when he said that “Avatar: The Nature of Water” is so expensive that in order to break even, it needs to become one of the three most financially successful films in history.
I.e. should make $2 billion. Only then will they be able to rest easy from Disney, who hold the rights to the series after buying the 20th Century Fox film studio. The budget of the new film is a record 350 million dollars, and they also went to mass advertising around the world.
However, what are the first results after the premiere?
Director James Cameron’s new film made $441.6 million worldwide in its opening weekend alone. Of these, 134 million from theaters in North America and 307.6 million from the rest of the world.
The surprising thing is that these results are below the forecast.
To be able to fulfill the condition set by Cameron, the new “Avatar” will have to avoid the fate of other big productions, which week after week quickly lose steam in cinemas.
Both the film’s good reviews and the fact that it’s a holiday weekend can help with that. Yet the challenge remains…
James Cameron has a track record of making successful films – two of the five films in history that grossed more than $5 billion were his work.
Only five films in history have managed to cross the $2 billion mark worldwide:
- “Avatar” (2009) – $2.9 billion
- “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) – $2.7 billion
- “Titanic” (1997) – $2.1 billion
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $2.07 billion
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – $2.05 billion
However, this happened in much better conditions – and purely economic for the viewers, to be able to afford to see a film again and again in the cinema, and without the consequences of a pandemic, due to which the attendance of cinemas in some parts of the world is still still goes with worry.
The good news for Disney is that two of these five films are by James Cameron himself, who definitely knows how to make mainstream cinema.
The bad thing is that “Avatar: The Nature of Water”, despite huge expectations, is not actually breaking records in the post-pandemic cinema environment at the moment. On the contrary, the financial results of its opening weekend are the third best since the start of the pandemic so far.
With $441.6 million, the film ranks behind “Spider-Man: No Way Home” with its impressive $600 million debut and even closely behind another Marvel blockbuster, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($442 million . income).
It should be noted that the finale of the new “Spider-Man” trilogy did not even manage to reach the infamous $2 billion that Cameron has now set as a goal. The comic book movie ended its run in theaters with a worldwide box office of 1.9 billion.
Only two other post-pandemic films managed to make even $1 billion – “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Reign”.
Now, Cameron wants his new film not only to cross the $1 billion mark (which it almost certainly will in the coming weeks), but also to be able to enter the elite club of films that have grossed over $2 billion.
An obstacle is the situation in China. Expectations of $100 million in revenue in this huge market fell short, and the film grossed just $57.1 million. A factor in the Asian country is the fallout from the pandemic and the still-present fear of mass gatherings.
The situation in our country
In Bulgaria, “Avatar: The Nature of Water” has the second most successful debut weekend in history.
Although the Bulgarian box office forms an insignificant part of the global success of Hollywood blockbusters, it is interesting to see what the situation is here as well.
In Bulgaria, “Avatar: The Nature of Water” earned over BGN 933,000 for its first weekend on the screen.
Adding the income from the pre-premiere screenings, the result is BGN 1.040 million. As noted by the distributors from “Forum Film”, an impressive result for the world after the pandemic.
This makes the premiere weekend of the new “Avatar” the most successful of the year, but more importantly – the second most successful in the history of cinema distribution in our country after just as many waits before its premiere – if not more – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ” (2015).
Like the 2009 original, James Cameron’s film has the potential to appeal to audiences who don’t traditionally frequent movie theaters and those who aren’t into the sci-fi genre.
Here is also one of the qualities of the series of the director and screenwriter – despite the fantastic environment of the planet Pandora, the plots capture common human themes and even some clichés that can intrigue a wider range of viewers.
Long term plans
In this – a long life on the big screen – lies the achievement of the difficult goal before “Avatar: The Nature of Water”.
Variety notes that “Avatar” and “Titanic” – James Cameron’s previous two films – did not start very strongly in theaters. “Titanic” in 1997 had a fairly modest by today’s standards debut of $28 million in North America, and “Avatar” in 2009 earned a not particularly impressive $77 million.
However, both films managed to amass a huge audience over time.
The second week of Avatar: The Last Airbender, especially with its second weekend falling between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, will show whether this film will have a similar theatrical run to the director’s previous two. And whether the duration of 3 hours and 12 minutes will not refuse viewers from the second, third, etc. views that are behind the success of the highest grossing films.
The expectations are that the final result will be more than 1 billion dollars, and maybe even 1.5 billion, or even more.
Another question arises here – will this be enough to fulfill the director’s plans for five films?