The box-office returns for Avatar: The Way of Water have started to roll in and they signal a massive hit for James Cameron. The mega-blockbuster, which was released on Dec. 16 in the United States, made $17 million in previews on Thursday night, as well as around $69 million so far in global markets, including China.
Even more impressive, the movie is already tracking to make between $400 and $500 million in total around the world in its first weekend. Should Avatar 2 actually meet this expected total it would drastically improve on the relatively slow debut of the original movie, which only opened at $77 million in the United States. Despite that opening, Avatar climbed to the top of the all-time box office standings thanks to 3D upcharges and an impressive ability to keep audiences coming back to Pandora week after week.
Avatar: The Way of Water may manage a similar staying power to its predecessor — even if it’s starting out with way bigger first weekend haul. If it can hold onto this success, and draw enough curious viewers and return customers, then its huge debut could help it grow into a similar-sized phenomenon as the original, even if it cracking its predecessor’s box office record total of $2.7 billion dollars (after a few re-releases in the 13 years since it was released) still seems a little far off to predict.