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WHAT WENT WRONG: The Way of Water's Opening Weekend

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I'm a big supporter of Avatar, and this is not a doom and gloom thread, but the numbers have been particularly disappointing for such an anticipated sequel. My focus is entirely on domestic, and it's doing just fine overseas despite its collapse in Japan (and China's fall but that is partially due to the COVID lockdowns). 


Avatar 2 is estimated to make around $134m-$135m on its OW. The first Avatar released 13 years ago, and opened to $77m. In today's prices, that would amount to roughly $110m. The fact that Avatar 2 will end up increasing a mere 20% on opening weekend alone (likely just around 10% in admissions) is completely unexpected and less than practically anyone would have predicted. The mere 10% jump in admissions is worrying because this film had Thursday showings, too (which makes seeing it more accessible than outright midnights). 


The one thing I was surprised to hear (anecdotal and not from the US) was the amount of people who were surprised that it was even coming out. I'm not sure awareness was as high as it could have been, and what I'm hoping ends up happening is that the strong WOM propels it to a very strong multiplier. It's essentially locked for $400m, and will very likely hit $500m so its overall gross will not be too disappointing but if it does end up with let's say $530m, that would mean a 50% drop in admissions from the first which did roughly 76m admissions. 



Edited by Noctis
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the general population were never going to rush out to see this movie first weekend. Box office folk who expected that and put projections high are the reason for some people's disappointment. People are just waking up to the fact that there's a new Avatar and with great WOM and the holidays more and more people will start going to it to not miss out on the hype. There was never widespread fanfare for Avatar since it's not a plot driven movie. But from what I heard Avatar 2 is more emotional and people really connected to the characters and the end was crazy. Expect Avatar 3's OW to be much higher if it releases within 2-3 years. 

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In simple terms: the brand just isn't strong enough for a big opening.


The good news is the quality of the film itself is good enough that the total return will be big when all is said and done. The legs will bare that out. But big opening weekend events need to involve a popular brand at this point.

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Only looking at Domestic.

  1. unwillingness to see this in anything but PLF or 3D, or a beat seat.
  2. 3hr length, limiting the PLF screens available (and good seats available)
  3. A weird dip in interest on The Quorum between end of Nov and the 8th of Dec. Critic reactions probably?
  4. Underestimation of how much franchise power is pivotal to Opening Weekends. In terms of opening weekends for a sequel to an original movie I believe A2 is up there
  5. terminally online men

1&2 are the main reasons it came in under initial predictions, as it killed off walk-ups.

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57 minutes ago, SchumacherFTW said:

Oh wow, we're already going for it 🤣 this place never changes


Its OW domestically isn't disappointing? A 10% surcharge in admissions on opening weekend from the first is good? 

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I think we probably did a mistake of expecting HUGE numbers like Star Wars and NWH in terms of start. Yes it could have been better and that's why it probably won't touch heights of first one. BUT


Here's numbers of Avatar 1 in UK

Dec 2009 - 26.87M (14 days)
Jan 2010 - 38.2M
Feb 2010 - 22M


or even NWH, which had HUGE frontloaded demand did BIG numbers in JAN.

Dec 2021 - 63M

Jan 2022 - 27M

Feb 2022 - 6M


So let's not do the second mistake. It can still do those BIG numbers in JAN. Competition is bleak. WOM is good. 

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one of the reasons you can't compare it to no way home or star wars is that there's no rush to see it because of plot spoilers. people don't really give a shit about spoilers for avatar. folks will see it when they see it. people i've spoken to do really want to see it but most probably won't get around to it until after christmas

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Noctis Curse - Noctis loved it so of course it flopped :hahaha:;)

WC. It's a huge event OS. Bigger than opening weekends.


Unrealistic expectations (guilty as charged here). As other already said, it didn't have built-in fandom like MCU or SW. It's a casual audience movie.


3 hours running time. It can be a put off and A2 isn't a grand conclusion like Endgame or ROTK to make it unmissable.


More of the same feel.



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