Box-office records at stake as Avatar: The Way of Water releases

Box-office records at stake as Avatar: The Way of Water releases
Indian movie theatres are counting on James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water slated to release on Friday, 13 years after the first Avatar movie wowed audiences to boost box-office collections as local offerings fail to impress filmgoers.
The sequel sold 1 million tickets on BookMyShow as of Wednesday and may surpass the box office records of Indian and Hollywood hits such as Dangal, KGF: Chapter 2 and Avengers: Endgame. In India, Cameron’s film reported 10 crore in advance sales 10 days before release and is being touted as a simple, emotional story with impressive visuals and 3D effects.
“Avatar was one of the first non-superhero films that paved the way for compelling stories to transport audiences into a world of fantasy with the support of design and technology. It is also the film that revolutionized the advent of the 3D format of watching movies in cinemas in India with a large number of theatres adopting and turning into 3D with audience demand," said Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow.
Anticipation for the sequel was already high, and advance bookings have been impressive, with the trailer adding to the momentum, Saksena said. The English version of the film is driving ticket sales on BookMyShow but is closely followed by the Hindi version, with Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad seeing strong advance sales.
With a screen count of 3,500, Avatar 2 is expected to be among the biggest releases of this year across all available formats, including 3D and IMAX versions. While Marvel superhero movies dominate the Hollywood market in India, theatre owners say the Avatar brand has enduring appeal.
“Marvel films are frontloaded in the sense that they open big, and there is a huge demand on weekends, after which there is a dip. Also, their business is led by their core fan base of youngsters. Avatar, on the other hand, will appeal to a wider audience, including families," said Vishek Chauhan, an independent Bihar-based exhibitor.
At 53 crore, Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame has recorded the highest opening for a Hollywood film in India so far. It is also the highest-grossing Hollywood film in the country, with lifetime collections of 373 crore. Given the positive buzz around Avatar since there are few options for Indian audiences during the holiday season, some trade experts claim Cameron’s film may outperform Marvel’s best offerings.
“The only thing going against it is the length. The film is over three hours long, so there will be fewer shows per day, plus early mornings are out of the question because of the winter season," Chauhan said. However, like Endgame, Avatar 2 could be looking at breaching the 100 crore-mark over its opening weekend. Karan Taurani, an analyst at Elara Capital Ltd, said Avatar: The Way of Water is estimated to record an opening day collection of 40 crore and lifetime earnings of 500-600 crore.
“Avatar 2 may glean 40-50% of total collections from Hindi and other dubbed languages. We anticipate record-breaking performance in the English genre, while the highest-grossing Hollywood film in India is Avengers: Endgame, Avatar 2 may appeal to a larger audience given the premise of family viewing versus Avengers’ youth-led audience," Taurani said.
Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, joint managing director of PVR Ltd, said the multiplex chain has clocked in the highest advance booking of the year with Avatar 2. “The pre-booking of Avatar 2 underlines the fact that the audience is coming back to cinemas after the pandemic for a wholesome family experience, and we expect this phenomenon to continue and rise," Bijli said.
In terms of advance ticket sales among Hollywood films, Avatar has surpassed Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. It has also surpassed Brahm?stra: Part One–Shiva and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in advance bookings for the 3D format in theatres.