France’s Love for ‘Avatar’ Helped Get ‘The Way of Water’ Past ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

The sequel has grossed over $130 million and counting from the French, as their country’s film industry anticipates a rebound in 2023

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To get an understanding of just how deeply “Avatar” has ingrained itself in the minds of moviegoers worldwide — as “The Way of Water” has now passed “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on the box office charts — look no further than one of its best-performing countries: France.

Outside the $620 million from U.S./Canada and the $237 million from China, France is the top-grossing market for “Avatar: The Way of Water” with $136.9 million so far. The country was in the same third-place spot behind the U.S. and China with the first “Avatar” in 2009 with $174 million grossed.

For a sense of how strong this number is for the French box office, consider that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” grossed $70 million in the country a year ago. In fact, “Avatar 2” is the first film to gross over $100 million in the country since the locally-made comedy “Serial (Bad) Weddings” back in 2014.

Within the French film industry, box office is measured by tickets sold rather than gross total. On that front, “Avatar 2” has crossed 12 million admissions and has cracked the top 20 all-time list for the country. It’s one of only three Hollywood films made in the last 30 years in that top 20, and the other two are also James Cameron films: the first “Avatar” at No. 8 with 14.7 million admissions and “Titanic” at No. 1 with 21.7 million.

While there are other countries in which “Avatar: The Way of Water” has performed exceptionally well — Germany and South Korea have each also contributed over $100 million — it’s clear that “Avatar” as a film and Cameron as a director have huge clout in France in a way that no other Hollywood franchise, not even Marvel and “Star Wars,” has been able to demonstrate. And the sequel has been able to achieve that despite having fewer showtimes in French theaters than in other major countries.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster