Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ sci-fi fantasy sequel Avatar: The Way of Water dominated the frigid Christmas weekend box office, generating more than $64 million in ticket sales Dec. 23-25. The tally upped the follow-up to James Cameron’s 2009 original Avatar to nearly $900 million in global revenue. An estimated $26 million haul on Monday, Dec. 26, puts the film’s domestic tally north of $287 million after 11 days — good enough to rank as at least the No. 8 box office release in 2022.
The holiday weekend box office was hampered in part by arctic weather conditions through much of the country that left millions without power and resulted in myriad moviegoers staying home.
Similar weather conditions greeted the sophomore weekend for the original Avatar, which would go on to have strong theatrical legs generating $760 million in North American revenue and all-time No. 1 global revenue of $2.92 billion (though some earnings came via theatrical releases in the subsequent decade).
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Meanwhile, three major studio new releases largely failed to measure up to pre-release expectations. Universal Pictures’ DreamWorks Animation sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish bowed at No. 2 with more than $11 million in ticket sales. The follow-up to 2011’s Puss in Boots was projected to top $15 million in revenue.
At No. 3, Sony Pictures’ Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody generated more than $5 million, which was almost half of pre-release estimates around $10 million.
Paramount Pictures’ period comedy Babylon saw about $3.5 million in ticket sales — about 50% below the projected $7 million tally for the Brad Pitt/Margot Robbie-starrer. With a reported $80 million production budget and millions more spent on marketing, the movie puts a damper on the studio’s stellar 2022 theatrical campaign that saw Top Gun: Maverick top all movies at the box office to date. Other major releases, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Smile, The Lost City and Scream all finished No. 1 in their theatrical weekend debuts.