Disney James Cameron’s Avatar: The Last Airbender grossed an estimated $56 million in its second weekend in theaters, down 58 percent from its debut.
Declines in ticket sales are common for blockbuster titles, with most dropping 50% to 70%. This metric, known as the second week drop, is often used to determine whether a film will have a long life at the box office or a quick flop.
Movies with a decline of less than 50% are expected to last longer, while those with a decline of more than 70% are likely to see a steep decline in ticket sales as they gain more attention.
“Avatar: Waterway’s second weekend is right where it needs to be, so this performance will set the tone for the film’s box office journey,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
Box office analysts noted that cold winter weather and storms caused a slowdown in domestic ticket sales over the Christmas weekend.
Additionally, international ticket sales continue to grow. In the second week, markets excluding the United States and Canada were down 43.9%. “Waterways” was always expected to account for at least 70% of the international box office, and as of Sunday, the split is at that level.
Since its Dec. 16 release, Waterway has grossed $855 million worldwide, including $254 million domestically and $601 million internationally. It is currently the fifth highest grossing film released in 2022.
Most important Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” is the current leader with $1.48 billion worldwide. of Universal Jurassic World: Dominion ($1 billion), Disney and Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($952 million), Universal and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru ($939 million dollars
“Waterways” is less than half of what Cameron says to be considered worthwhile. Although word-of-mouth has waned, it’s still possible that the Avatar sequels will appear in the movie.
The next big blockbuster, Disney and Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum of Solace, doesn’t hit theaters until Feb. 17, leaving Waterway a long shot at the box office without much competition.
“There’s no direct competition against the movie in January,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “That’s when an Avatar sequel can make up for lost ground in reaching long-term expectations.”
“We live in a world where the desire for instant gratification leads us to use the first result as the ultimate barometer of a movie’s success,” he said. “In reality, sometimes it makes sense, but sometimes it doesn’t. This is one of the last situations.”
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of Jurassic World: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru.