“Avatar: The Way of Water” continued its uneven box office career in mainland China with a fourth weekend at the top of the charts.
The film earned $16.5 million (RMB114 million) between Friday and Sunday, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. That represented 55% of the weekend’s nationwide cinema revenue total.
By Sunday evening, the film had a cumulative total of more $189 million (RMB1.31 billion), making it the top-grossing Hollywood film from 2022 to be released in China.
It is a total that only a few weeks ago seemed unlikely and ticketing agency Maoyan, has revised its forecast for the film’s likely final total upwards to RMB1.5 billion or some $225 million.
Approval of the release of “Avatar 2” in China came early enough for distributors to launch a comprehensive marketing campaign, book cinemas and synchronize with its outing in North America and other territories.
The Chinese government’s subsequent decision to remove most of its anti-COVID controls was initially read as a further fillip for the film. But as health measures were scaled back, the disease was allowed to rip through the population. That caused some folk to stay away from cinemas, while others enjoyed their new-found freedom.
The film’s first weekend delivered a $51.8 million haul that was both highly impressive compared with the Chinese cinema industry’s recent malaise and still lower than many expectations.
Its weekend revenues halved on the second weekend (Dec. 23-25, 2022), but then rebounded strongly over the weekend of Dec. 30, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023. Third weekend revenues in China were $36.3 million.
The film’s dominance is likely to continue through the next weekend as there are few significant new titles to challenge it for screens. The following weekend, however, marks the beginning of Chinese New Year and a likely refreshment of the titles on offer.
Over the latest weekend, Maoyan Weiying’s “Better Man” scored $5.8 million to extend its cumulative since Dec. 31 to $29.0 million. In third place, Wanda Pictures’ “Someday or One Day” earned $4.7 million for a cumulative since Dec. 24 of $46.5 million.
Japanese animation, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” scored RMB5.9 million (approximately $850,000) on its debut.
DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which secured a Dec. 23 release in China, earned a further RMB5.6 million ($810,000). It now has a cumulative of $2.9 million (RMB20.1 million).