- “Avatar: The Way of Water” passed “Top Gun: Maverick” at the global box office.
- It’s now the biggest movie released in 2022.
- But “Maverick” is still the top movie at the US box office for the year.
James Cameron is the king of the world — again.
The director’s long-awaited “Avatar” followup, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” became 2022’s biggest movie at the global box office on Wednesday, with $1.5 billion.
It passed the previous top movie of the year, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which earned $1.489 billion worldwide. “The Way of Water,” which opened December 16, managed the feat in just three weeks.
It still has a ways to go to beat “Maverick” in the US, though. “The Way of Water” has grossed $465 million in the US through Wednesday, and “Maverick” earned a total of $718 million.
But the movie is showing strong legs. In the US, it actually earned more in its third three-day weekend than it did in its second, growing 6%.
That’s a rare occurrence at the box office these days, where big-budget tentpoles often see big significant drops week to week. It suggests that the movie could maintain momentum as it faces little competition until Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in February.
That’s one reason it has managed to top the 2022 box office. Another is its ticket sales in China, where it’s showing signs of life despite a lower-than-expected opening weekend and pandemic-related lockdowns in the region.
The movie has grossed $162 million at the China box office so far; the first “Avatar” earned $262 million there, including a successful re-release in 2021.
If “The Way of Water” catches its predecessor, that would be the most impressive feat. The first “Avatar” is the biggest movie of all time, with $2.9 billion at the global box office.
For now, grossing $1.5 billion, with plenty more to come, is an accomplishment.
Cameron had suggested that the movie needed to earn $2 billion to break even, telling GQ in November that it had to be the “third or fourth highest-grossing film in history.” Variety recently reported that the break-even number was closer to $1.5 billion.
But $2 billion is still within reach, as “The Way of Water” is pacing ahead of the first movie at the same point in its release.