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Bold Box Office Predictions: Will Avatar: The Way of Water Become the Biggest Movie of 2022?

For those of you who religiously read my column every week (all four of you), I apologize for the hiatus.  Really.  I do.

To be fair though, this is a HUGE improvement. The last time I took a break, it was five years in between columns, so this is a real Jalen Hurts level of improvement. As long as my box office predictions are better than the Patriots offense, I’ll be happy. And yes, I’m a Patriots fan, so I’m allowed to make those jokes.

Moving along.

In all honesty, did I really miss anything? Oh, gee whiz, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever won five weekends in a row. Shocker. Here’s a rundown of the last few weeks:

Black Panther good. The Menu and Violent Night solid. Strange World bad. There. We’re caught up. I guess it would have been fun to analyze Violent Night though. Well, that’s just a regret I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life.

Well, no more regrets. I’m back. And I came back at just the right time. There’s kind of a big movie happening. Yup, that’s right. Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light rolls into its second weekend!

Okay, quick tangent — I went to see Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery over Thanksgiving (packed theater), and when the Empire of Light trailer ended, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more non-reaction to something in my life.


Okay, enough malarkey. Let’s get to it.  In 2009, a little independent film came out called Avatar.  It was directed by this guy…

Anyway, to put it bluntly, Avatar became the highest grossing film of all time.

It beat the previous record holder, 1997’s Titanic, which was also directed by this guy…

Yeah. James Cameron. He kind of has this filmmaking thing figured out. Now when it comes to Avatar, it was technically beat by Avengers: Endgame in 2019. HOWEVER, Avatar did take back the throne, but only because it did these random re-releases here and there. It came back in the years following Endgame, then it was released earlier this year, and I think there was a “I had a bagel for breakfast special IMAX 7D” release extravaganza or something that put it over the top, I don’t know. Whatever. I can’t keep up with all this!

Bottom-line: As of today, Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time. The end.

The journey of getting to Avatar: The Way of Water has been fascinating. While Avatar is the highest grossing movie ever, nobody seems to like it. Or do they? No. They don’t. Oh, wait. Now we do, right?

Seriously, I’ve never been more confused by the reaction to a movie in my life.

So, where are we on Avatar on the eve of the sequel’s release? Well, it was a running gag for years if this movie would ever see the light of day. And the jokes got even worse after the proclamation that there would be three more movies after this! Avatar 5!? Really?

No one’s laughing now.  James Cameron is going to do it again. I firmly believe Avatar: The Way of Water will be the highest grossing film of 2022.

It might not reach Top Gun: Maverick’s domestic run, but it will threaten $2 Billion worldwide. Much like Top Gun though, the long layoff between movies will be a blessing in disguise.

In the 13 years since Avatar opened, people went from “OMG Avatar” to “Avatar is overrated” to “Avatar sucks” to “Nobody cares about Avatar” to “Those sequels will never happen, haha!” to “Hey, remember Avatar?” to “Oh, those Avatar sequels are actually happening” to “You know, I’m kind of intrigued by Avatar again” to “Holy crap, did you see that Avatar trailer?” to “OMG Avatar”!  Yes, the long gap actually allowed this movie to go full circle.

Avatar: The Way of Water also has the benefit of getting a ton of consecutive weekends with very little competition. It’s actually conceivable this movie remains #1 until Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens on February 17th. I’d look for M3gan (January 6th) and M. Night’s Knock at the Cabin (February 3rd) to maybe unseat it, but otherwise, this movie will be playing Madden on easy mode for several weeks.


While Avatar’s opening weekend won’t reach the heights of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the drop-offs will be significantly less as opposed to those movies, and that’s the real power of James Cameron.  Much like its predecessor, Titanic, and the aforementioned Top Gun: Maverick, it’s just going to keep accumulating, accumulating, accumulating, and accumulating.

1. Avatar: The Way of Water — $172 Million
2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — $8.7 Million
3. Violent Night — $6.5 Million
4. Strange World — $1.5 Million
5. The Menu — $1.2 Million

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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