After three weeks in theaters around the world, Disney/20th Century’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” is set to pass $1.5 billion at the global box office Wednesday, and in doing so will pass Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” as the highest-grossing release of 2022.
James Cameron’s sequel is the 11th film in box office history to pass the $1.5 billion mark and second since the pandemic began, joining last year’s holiday megahit “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The milestone comes after the film added $10.4 million domestic and $28.3 million internationally on Tuesday, giving it a total of $457.3 million in U.S./Canada and $1.48 billion worldwide. At its pace, it will gross the $20 million needed to cross the $1.5 billion mark on Wednesday, its 22nd day in theaters.
By the time its fourth weekend in theaters begins, “Avatar: The Way of Water” will pass the theatrical runs of “The Avengers” and “Furious 7” to join the top 10 highest grossing films of all time before inflation adjustment. After that, it will need to reach $1.66 billion to pass the 2019 remake of “The Lion King” for the No. 8 spot on that list.
What’s particularly impressive about the run of “Avatar 2” is that it has already passed $1 billion in overseas grosses alone even with the biggest international market, China, underperforming due to COVID-19 infection surges. Though it is still the top overseas market with $165 million grossed so far, China was expected to have a box office run that rivaled the U.S. given the popularity of “Avatar” in the country.
While China has made up only 16% of overseas gross for “Avatar 2” so far — much less than the 32.5% overseas share for “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019 — other markets have picked up the slack. On Wednesday, “Avatar 2” will pass $100 million in box office grosses in France, and has also seen strong performances in South Korea ($77 million), Germany ($73 million), United Kingdom ($59 million) and India ($51 million. And current legs indicate that it will continue to draw out audiences in all these markets.
On the domestic side, “Avatar 2” has a strong chance of crossing the $500 million mark this weekend, but it still has a way to go to pass the $718.5 million total of “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Avatar 2” has six more weekends before “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” will provide serious blockbuster competition, so whether it can leg out to become one of the top 5 all-time highest grossing films in North America will come down to how well it endures among moviegoers in this post-holiday period.