Where does Avatar: The Way Of Water rank among the top box-office openings of 2022?

Where does Avatar: The Way Of Water rank among the top box-office openings of 2022?

See how James Cameron's return to Pandora compares to this year's other major releases, including Top Gun: Maverick, Wakanda Forever, and The Batman

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Clockwise L to R: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion, Center: Avatar: The Way Of Water
Clockwise L to R: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion, Center: Avatar: The Way Of Water
Image: Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

As we reported yesterday, Avatar: The Way Of Water blew the competition out of the—ahem—water at the box office during its opening, handily coming in at number one with an estimated $134 million in domestic ticket sales. That was enough to oust Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from the top spot, where it has reigned for the past five weeks. But where does that put the Avatar sequel in relation to this year’s other big openings? We’ve run the numbers to find out.

One thing these figures show is a strong opening weekend doesn’t necessarily correlate with critical acclaim, or even long-term success. It can take a while for a film to catch on (like the original Avatar did)—and on the flip side, bad word of mouth can sink a film once it opens in theaters. We don’t expect either will be the case with Avatar: The Way Of Water, though. Glowing reviews and positive word of mouth are likely to keep it afloat for weeks to come. Okay, enough puns for now; onto the rankings.

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10. Black Adam

10. Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam
Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam
Photo: Warner Bros.

Opening Date: October 21

Opening weekend box office: $67,004,323

Domestic box office to date: $167,172,068

Dwayne Johnson’s superhero epic Black Adam premiered with a respectable take of $67 million, but it didn’t have much competition. The Julia Roberts and George Clooney throwback rom-com Ticket To Paradise debuted in a distant second with just $16.5 million. In its second weekend, Black Adam dropped 50 percent, but that was enough to push it over the $100 million threshold.

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3 / 12

9. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

9. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Opening Date: April 8

Opening weekend box office: $72,105,176

Domestic box office to date: $190,872,904

The gap between the opening weekend total for Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and its closest box-office competitor was even wider. That’s because it was Morbius, which proved no match for the speedy blue CGI guy, with Jared Leto’s poorly reviewed Marvel adaptation adding just $10.2 million to its paltry total in its second weekend. The Sonic sequel also managed to outperform the original film, which opened to $58 million in ticket sales.

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4 / 12

8. Minions: The Rise Of Gru

8. Minions: The Rise Of Gru

Minions: The Rise of Gru
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Photo: Universal Pictures

Opening Date: July 1

Opening weekend box office: $107,010,140

Domestic box office to date: $369,500,210

With an assist from a viral stunt in which groups of teens calling themselves “Gentleminions” dressed up in formal wear to see Minions: The Rise Of Gru in its Fourth of July opening weekend, the film comfortably crossed the $100 million mark. That was the second-best opening for any of the Despicable Me franchise films, right after the original Minions in 2015, which earned $115 million in its first weekend.

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7. Top Gun: Maverick

7. Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Opening Date: May 27

Opening weekend box office: $126,707,459

Domestic box office to date: $718,701,729

Despite an opening box-office take that places it in the lower half of this list, Top Gun: Maverick would go on to reach the number-one slot in overall ticket sales for 2022. And with Avatar opening so close to the end of the year, that’s not likely to change. Maverick still stands as the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time, so it goes to show that opening weekends don’t always tell the whole story.

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6. Avatar: The Way Of Water

6. Avatar: The Way Of Water

(L-R:) Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in Avatar: The Way Of Water
(L-R:) Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in Avatar: The Way Of Water
Photo: 20th Century Studios

Opening Date: December 17

Opening weekend box office: $134 million (estimated)

Although James Cameron’s Avatar sequel may have fallen short of expectations (which initially anticipated an opening weekend of more than $150 million), it still beat out the original film, which earned just $77 million in its first weekend back in 2009. The $134 million earned domestically by the sequel this weekend is bolstered by a reported $300 million opening overseas. If it follows a similar pattern as its predecessor we’ll probably see The Way Of Water hanging around at the top of the box office for the rest of the year, and beyond.

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5. The Batman

5. The Batman

Robert Pattinson in The Batman
Robert Pattinson in The Batman
Photo: Warner Bros.

Opening Date: March 4

Opening weekend box office: $134,008,624

Domestic box office to date: $369,345,583

Never count out the Dark Knight when it comes to attracting an audience. Matt Reeves’ The Batman welcomed a new Bruce Wayne, as Robert Pattinson became the latest to don the cowl back in March. The film’s combination of familiar and fresh elements proved to be a winner with moviegoers this year and helped it surpass expectations in its opening weekend. Once adjusted numbers for Avatar: The Way Of Water are final it may overtake The Batman in the fifth spot for the year, but for now they’re only separated by a small margin.

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4. Thor: Love And Thunder

4. Thor: Love And Thunder

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love And Thunder
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love And Thunder
Photo: Marvel Studios

Opening Date: July 8

Opening weekend box office: $144,165,107

Domestic box office to date: $343,256,830

Even the lowest-ranking of the three big Marvel films this year had an impressive launch, earning more in one weekend than a lot of highly anticipated releases did during their entire runs. Thor: Love And Thunder proved that lighting can strike not just twice but four times. Every Thor film so far has managed to win the box office in its first weekend, and this installment had the best opening of all of them.

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9 / 12

3. Jurassic World: Dominion

3. Jurassic World: Dominion

Jurassic World: Dominion
Jurassic World: Dominion
Photo: Universal Pictures

Opening Date: June 10

Opening weekend box office: $145,075,625

Domestic box office to date: $376,009,080

The Jurassic Park franchise has seen diminishing returns creatively, but the latest sequel, Jurassic World: Dominion, had something special to offer: a reunion of the main trio from the original film. Even tepid reviews couldn’t keep audiences away. After a colossal opening weekend it went on to snag the No. 4 slot in total domestic gross overall for the year.

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10 / 12

2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Photo: Marvel Studios

Opening Date: November 11

Opening weekend box office: $181,339,761

Domestic box office to date: $412,902,334

Even though Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was runner-up for the best Marvel opening this year, it proved to have the most staying power. After five weekends at the top of the box office, it managed to surpass the former Sorcerer Supreme to become the top Marvel movie of 2022. And it’s still playing in theaters, so even with the arrival of Avatar, Black Panther’s total can only grow from here.

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1. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

1. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness
Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness
Photo: Marvel Studios

Opening Date: May 6

Opening weekend box office: $187,420,998

Domestic box office to date: $411,331,607

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness rode into 2022 on a wave of excitement after the massive success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which featured Doctor Strange in a substantial supporting role, and WandaVision, the first of a new crop of MCU TV series on Disney+. So its massive $187.4 million opening shouldn’t come as a surprise. It wasn’t able to hold onto that lead, however, eventually having to settle for third place overall for the year. Still, not a bad place to be, and a sign that Marvel’s power at the box office remains formidable.

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