James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” is now looking to string together seven weekends atop the domestic box office. That’s a run of No. 1 finishes that now ranks as the 12th-most ever for a domestic release, tying the numbers of the sci-fi film’s 2009 predecessor and, funnily, another family drama with an aquatic emphasis in the title: the Henry and Jane Fonda’s 1981 film “On Golden Pond.”
“The Way of Water” earned $3.5 million from 3,600 locations on Friday, down a soft 25% from its previous outing. The “Avatar” sequel has now surged past the $600 million mark at the domestic box office, with the potential to unseat “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” ($620.1 million) as the 11th-highest grossing North American release of all time once the weekend is out. Total domestic gross currently stands at $608 million.
On Thursday, “The Way of Water” became the fifth highest-grossing movie in global box office history with $2.05 billion, passing “Avengers: Infinity War.” Only “Avatar” ($2.92 billion), “Avengers: Endgame” ($2.79 billion), “Titanic” ($2.19 billion) and “Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens” ($2.07 billion) rank higher on the all-time list.
While “Avatar 2” has seen little high-profile competition in the weeks since the holidays, an international blockbuster did land stateside this weekend, projecting a finish in the domestic box office’s top five. The action-espionage thriller “Pathaan” drew an estimated $1.86 million opening day gross from 694 locations, landing the best per-theater average of any release on Friday.
“Pathaan” is an Indian blockbuster starring Shah Rukh Khan, a Bollywood legend headlining his first film in nearly five years, alongside Deepika Padukone and John Abraham. Internationally, the film landed the biggest opening day gross ever for a Hindi-language production on Jan. 25. It is projected to land in third or fourth on domestic charts, drawing an opening weekend gross in the high seven-figure range.
Second place on domestic charts will likely go to Universal’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” once again. The DreamWorks production is projecting a nominal 11% for the weekend, looking to add $10.5 million to round out its domestic gross to $140 million. The “Shrek” spinoff entry has retained strong word-of-mouth since a lackluster debut over the holidays. With little competition for family audiences around, “Puss in Boots” has stayed surging at the box office.
Columbia Pictures’ “A Man Called Otto” looks to take third place, projecting a $6.3 million gross for the weekend. The Tom Hanks drama has connected with theatrical audiences in a way that adult-oriented fare has struggled to since the onset of the pandemic. Sony constructed a strong platform release that has sparked word-of-mouth. Total domestic gross should hit $45 million after the weekend.
Universal’s comedy thriller “M3GAN” looks to round out the top five, projecting a solid 38% drop and an additional $6 million haul to bolster its domestic gross, which should surpass $80 million through the weekend.
Also opening this weekend, Neon organized a tempered wide release for “Infinity Pool,” putting the horror film in 1,835 locations. The Brandon Cronenberg-directed thriller, which drew strong reactions — enthused and repulsed — out of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this month is projected to land about $3 million in its opening weekend.