Saturday, July 20, 2024

2023’s Superhero Movies Make Avatar 2’s Box Office Look Even Better

The success of Avatar: The Way of Water appears to be even more assured given that upcoming superhero films such as Ant-Man 3 and Shazam 2 are underperforming at the box office.

It’d be difficult to make Avatar: The Way of Water’s box office appear much better than it currently does, but the failure of 2023’s superhero flicks demonstrates just how unique the Avatar sequel’s box office performance truly is. There was some doubt about Avatar: The Way of Water’s box office potential prior to its release, but given the performance of James Cameron’s previous films, it was clear skeptics weren’t seeing the full picture; however, now that 2023’s superhero movies are bombing at the box office, it’s a lot more clear what makes Avatar: The Way of Water so special.

When it was released on December 16, 2022, Avatar: The Way of Water only made $134.1 million at the domestic box office on its first weekend, but it slowly crept up to $682.7 million domestically and $2.3 billion globally over the next few months to become the third highest-grossing film of all time, trailing only the original Avatar and Avengers: Endgame. This long-tail box office success contrasts sharply with how other blockbusters perform in today’s theatrical market, and 2023’s superhero disappointments underline that fact.

The Box Office for Avatar: The Way of Water Reverses Major Trends

In previous decades, movies earned a much larger percentage of their total box office revenue in the weeks and months following their release, but that ratio has shifted increasingly in favor of the opening weekend box office, to the point where nine of the top ten box office performers in 2022 (excluding Avatar: The Way of Water) saw an average total box office earnings reach a multiplier of 2.92 times their opening weekend. Meanwhile, Avatar: The Way of Water has a 5.09 multiplier thanks to its $682.7 million budget. In comparison, the multiplier for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is 2, and the multiplier for Shazam: Fury of the Gods is 1.89.

Despite being in theaters for months, Avatar 2 is outperforming Ant-Man 3 and Shazam 2 at the box office.

Avatar: The Way of Water grossing far more than Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum of Solace and Shazam: Fury of the Gods isn’t a major issue or a fair comparison on its own, but the manner in which it’s doing it is. Despite being in theaters for 17 weeks, Avatar: The Way of Water surpassed Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania over the Easter weekend, earning $528,114 to Quantumania’s $333,682 in its eighth weekend. In its sixth weekend, Shazam 2 is currently ahead of The Way of Water, but it only made $1.8 million, implying that it could slip behind in the following week or two.

While Avatar: The Way of Water’s outstanding box office legs stand out in comparison to other 2022 and 2023 films, particularly superhero films like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, it’s impressive to note that Top Gun: Maverick surpassed Avatar 2 at the home box office, only behind it globally due to inferior overseas figures. Non-superhero films’ tremendous success isn’t always a sign of “superhero fatigue,” but it’s nonetheless encouraging to see films with broader audience appeal performing as well as Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick.

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