The box office of the sequel to “Avatar” surpasses the $1 billion mark in China despite Covid

Avatar: The Way of Water

Courtesy: Disney Co.

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water has surpassed the billion-dollar mark at the global box office, but sluggish sales in China could weigh on the film’s ultimate success.

Worldwide ticket sales for the Disney Film is now $1.03 billion, the combination of $317 million in domestic sales and $712 million from international markets.

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The milestone comes 14 days after The Way of Water made its theatrical debut, five days faster than Avatar hit the same benchmark in 2009. This places the film in the top five fastest films to gross $1 billion at the box office.

Cameron previously said that “The Way of Water” would need to reach $2 billion in box office receipts to be considered profitable.

Box office analysts believe Cameron’s flick may hit the mark. The Way of Water has no direct or significant competition in theaters until mid-February, when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is released.

Nevertheless, industry experts are concerned about the restrained ticket sales from China. The market was expected to be a key source of revenue for the sequel but has surpassed expectations as Covid roils the region again.

As of Tuesday, China accounted for just $108 million in ticket sales for the film. The country was expected to bring in $100 million in deals over the film’s opening weekend alone.

The Way of Water is one of only a handful of Hollywood releases to be approved for a coveted release in China this year. China has become a dominant market in global cinema and is considered crucial for blockbusters looking for top box office.

However, earlier this month China abruptly ended many Covid controls. Infections have increased, putting a strain on the country’s healthcare system. At this point it is unclear to what extent Covid outbreaks have swept the country, with few official figures on recent infections and deaths. China’s National Health Commission on Sunday stopped sharing daily figures after mandatory virus testing was halted.

“High hopes were placed in the country to generate the additional revenue needed to see the film surpass director James Cameron’s lofty global earnings expectations,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

Dergarabedian said that Cameron’s traditional box office success is in the film’s favor, noting that previous releases like Titanic and the first Avatar had long theatrical runs.

“Hopefully the worrying health situation will ease over time,” he said.

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