There’s one big advantage to being the last tentpole release before the arrival of a James Cameron film: you can dominate during the calm before the storm. Such is the advantage of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which is enjoying its fifth consecutive weekend in first place amid an otherwise dead-silent box office.
The 13-year sequel to the biggest movie of all time, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is also the first film directed by Cameron since 2009’s “Avatar”. Despite its monstrous success at the box office, “Avatar” has also withstood plenty of criticism over the past decade-plus: from accusations of being a “Pocahontas” rip-off, to arguments that it failed to make a lasting impact on pop culture, to obsessions over the typeface used for the title. No one is quite sure whether “The Way of Water” can repeat the success of the original film – not even Cameron himself.
But Hollywood has learned not to bet against a James Cameron film. Since “Wakanda Forever” arrived on Nov. 11, the release schedule has been very quiet, with new movies largely consisting of Oscar hopefuls and mid-budget fare like “Violent Night.” No studio wants one of its biggest contenders caught in the window between a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and a James Cameron movie: the risk of either being steamrolled by “Wakanda Forever” or crushed by “The Way of Water” is too high.
All of which means that, per The Wrap , this was the second-lowest box office weekend of the year, second only to the weekend of January 28 when “Spider-Man: No Way Home” enjoyed its seventh weekend at #1 ( insert joke that Spider-Man is very long-legged here).
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever crosses $400 million domestically
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” added another $11 million to its domestic total this weekend, jumping over the $400 million milestone for a total of $409 million. Globally, the film has grossed $767.8 million — slightly more than “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but significantly behind “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which had very strong overseas numbers. On the domestic side, however, “Multiverse of Madness” reached $411 million, meaning “Wakanda Forever” is a sneeze away from becoming the biggest MCU film of the year at the North American box office.
Now all eyes will be on “Avatar: The Way of Water” as we find out if we’re in for just one more “Avatar” movie after this one, or if the beginning of the “Avatar” dynasty is upon us. According to The Wrap , “The Way of Water” is expected to debut north of $150 million … but how far north remains to be seen.