Just when you thought James Cameron might take a break from winning, you realise he’s been beating up Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Pixar without even trying. Let us explain.
We all know that Cameron’s 2022 sequel Avatar: The Way of Water was a massive hit. In fact, it was such a big hit, “massive” probably isn’t big enough of a word. Released in December 2022, Avatar 2 went on to gross $US2.3 billion worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing film ever. The bulk of that, at least domestically (where its $US684 million is good for seventh all-time), was in those first few weeks of release. However, Avatar 2 played into 2023 and to date has grossed over $US280 million during this year. At the moment, that makes it the seventh highest-grossing film of this year, the year after it came out.
Why that’s so interesting is that Avatar 2’s 2023 gross alone is more than almost every other film its distributor, Disney, released this year. That includes Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Elemental, The Marvels, Haunted Mansion, Wish, A Haunting in Venice, The Creator, and The Boogeyman. Two of those, The Marvels and Wish, are still in theaters but neither will come close to the $US283 million domestic Avatar 2 grossed this year. Hat tip to Variety for pointing this out.
Just two new Disney releases, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Little Mermaid, outgrossed last year’s hit, with Little Mermaid only beating it by about $US15 million.
For a 2022 movie to out-earn a slate that stacked with big names is simultaneously shocking, telling, and almost expected. “Shocking” on the basic idea that a 2022 movie could do such a thing. “Expected” in that Avatar 2 was only out a few weeks before the calendar flipped and was released specifically to have legs into 2023. And “telling” in that Disney’s releases this year have, for the most part, failed to meet expectations both financially and critically. The reasons for that last point are numerous and worthy of a separate article, but the fact Avatar 2 is Disney’s third highest-grossing film the year after its release remains noteworthy and worthy of discussion.
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