‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Earns $17 Million Box Office in Thursday Previews

James Cameron’s film opened to $50.4 million internationally

Avatar: The Way of Water 2022 Film Still
Walt Disney Studios

“Avatar: The Way of Water” made a modest splash at the box office with $17 million in Thursday previews. 

Disney/20th Century Studios and Lightstorm Entertainment pulled no punches with the U.S.-Canada release of the holiday season’s most anticipated theatrical release. Starting Dec. 16, the James Cameron film plays in ​​4,202 theaters on more than 12,000 screens. In line with its advanced technology and visual effects, the film will be shown in 400 IMAX 3D auditoriums and 950 Premium Large Format screens, approximately 75% of which will be 3D. It will also screen in 3,000 3D theaters, 80 D-Box/4D motion auditoriums and 85 ScreenX locations.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is projected to earn an opening weekend of at least $150 million, though it wasn’t expected to earn much of that money from Thursday previews. While big blockbusters like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” usually see strong Thursday preview results from moviegoers who want to see the film as early as possible, the 192-minute runtime of “Avatar 2” makes it more likely that interested moviegoers will see it during the peak of the weekend rather than on Thursday night.

For a comparison, Dec. 2018’s “Aquaman” scored $13.7 million in Thursday previews and drew a total of $67.8 million its opening weekend. 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” brought in $29 million in Thursday previews and scored $155 million by the end of its first weekend in theaters.

As of Friday morning, “Avatar 2” has generated $50.4 million in 44 international markets. It opened at No. 1 in all territories, with Korea, France and Germany grossing highest. Friday will also see the film released wide in China, where it is expected to generate massive returns. (The first “Avatar” made a record-breaking $200 million at the Chinese box office in early 2010.)

Thirteen years in the making, “Avatar: The Way of Water” revisits the world of the Na’vi and the Sully family. When humans mount another invasion, they band together to defend Pandora and their families. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Winslet star. 

Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver wrote the script, with Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno collaborating with them on the story. The film is produced by Cameron and Jon Landau, with David Valdes and Richard Baneham serving as executive producers.