‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Wave Engulfs U.K. Box Office

Disney’s “Avatar: The Way Of Water” created a tidal wave at the U.K. and Ireland box office in its opening weekend washing away almost everything in its path.

James Cameron’s much-anticipated return to Pandora debuted at No. 1 with a gargantuan £11.1 million ($13.5 million), per numbers released by Comscore. The film’s opening is 68% higher than the three-day total for “Avatar” in 2009, which went on to a lifetime gross of £96.7 million in the territory.

Sony/TriStar Pictures’ “Matilda the Musical,” after enjoying three weekends atop the box office, descended to second place in its fourth weekend with £1.3 million, for a total of £12.7 million.

In its sixth weekend, Disney’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” collected £377,824 for a total of £35.5 million in third position. In fourth place, Universal’s “Violent Night” took £352,281 in its third weekend and now has a total of £2.6 million.

Rounding off the top five was Disney’s “Strange World” with £193,836 in its fourth weekend for a total of £2 million.

While there were no other debuts in the top 10, Park Circus’ quartet of festive season rerelease holdovers, “Elf,” “Home Alone,” “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” all charted respectably, occupying positions six through nine, with £122,125, £105,887, £93,832 and £93,615 respectively.

Disney’s “The Menu” was in 10th place with £84,270 in its fifth weekend and now has a total of £3.2 million.

The weekend ahead, the “Avatar: The Way Of Water” tsunami is expected to continue, though most cinemas in the territory will be closed on Christmas Day.

New releases on Friday, Dec. 23, include Dogwoof/Amazon Studios’s “Wildcat,” where, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a former soldier develops a bond with a baby ocelot in the jungles of Peru. The day also sees Netflix give a limited theatrical release to period crime-mystery “The Pale Blue Eye,” starring Christian Bale, Harry Melling and Gillian Anderson and Studiocanal a release to 1949 classic “The Queen of Spades,” in a 4K restoration.

The big Bollywood release of the weekend is Reliance Entertainment’s “Cirkus,” starring Ranveer Singh in a dual role.

On Boxing Day, Sony will bow Kasi Lemmons’ “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” where, discovered by record executive Clive Davis, Whitney Houston rises from obscurity to international fame in the 1980s to become one of the greatest singers of her generation. The cast includes Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sander and Tamara Tunie.

Also receiving a Boxing Day release is Picturehouse Entertainment’s awards magnet “Corsage,” starring Vicky Krieps, Florian Teichtmeister, Katharina Lorenz and Colin Morgan, that has won prizes at Cannes, London, San Sebastian and Sarajevo amongst many others.

VIP+ Analysis: Can ‘Way of Water’ Run Hotter Than Marvel?

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