The milestones keep coming for Avatar: The Way of Water.
James Cameron’s blockbuster is now the fourth top-grossing film of all time at the global box office after passing up the $2.071 billion grossed globally by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, not adjusted for inflation. The Way of Water finished Friday with a worldwide cume of $2.074 billion, meaning that Cameron has directed three of the four top-grossing films of all time. Disney, which inherited the Avatar franchise when taking over 20th Century Fox, likewise dominates the upper reaches of the list.
The all-time roster is topped by Cameron’s original Avatar ($2.92 billion), followed by Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame ($2.79 billion) and Cameron’s Titanic ($2.194 billion).
Box office analysts believe The Way of Water will ultimately overtake Titanic even though a remastered 3D version of Titanic is being rereleased next week in time for Valentine’s Day (Paramount is handling the rerelease domestically, while Disney and 20th Century have international duties).
Since launching in theaters around the world in mid-December, Avatar 2 has bested all expectations after what some deemed a mediocre opening.
The movie, for example, will easily stay No. 1 in North America this weekend with a domestic tally in the $15 million range from 3,600 theaters. A crop of sturdy holdovers will also stay high up on the chart, including Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, A Man Called Otto and M3GAN.
None of the weekend’s new movies will crack the top five.
Brandon Cronenberg’s hard-R horror film Infinity Pool is looking at an eighth-place finish with an opening in the $3 million range from 1,830 theaters. The Neon film made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last week, although the audience was treated to a cut rated NC-17. The version playing in theaters in North America was retooled in certain parts in order to receive an R rating.
Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist, a special event screening playing in 1,835 theaters, should follow in ninth place with $2.2 million-$2.4 million for Fathom. Billie Eilish: Live at the O2, likewise a special event, is expected to pony up $1.2 million to $1.3 million from only 600 runs (the concert pic played on Friday only).
At the specialty box office, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking upped its theater count to 707 locations after scoring several top Oscar nominations, including best picture. The acclaimed film, from MGM, is expected to earn $1.1 million this weekend for a domestic total of $4.5 million.
The other films landing in the best picture category, including Avatar, have already been playing extensively in theaters, with many already available in the home. Nevertheless, some are expanding their location count in hopes of seeing a bump from a best picture or other top noms.
One such film is To Leslie, an indie film starring Andrea Riseborough that did almost no business last October when released in 28 or so theaters. But after a celebrity-fueled grassroots campaign led to Riseborough earning a surprise Oscar nomination for best actress, the movie is going back into six cinemas this weekend. According to unofficial estimates, few are going to see To Leslie.
Estimates will be updated Sunday.