While Avatar: The Way of Water continues to rack up money at the worldwide box office, including breaking records and outpacing the original film from 2009, the blockbuster is about to do something that’s unheard of…get played on more theaters. As noticed by Exhibitor Relations, The Walt Disney Company has confirmed that Avatar: The Way of Water will add 138 screens to its total this weekend, giving it a total of 4,340 domestic screens for its upcoming fourth weekend at the box office. Since the sequel has already cleared $460 million in the US, the path to half a billion just opened up even wider.
It’s uncertain if these new screens are premium format screens like IMAX or Dolby, which would be better for its bottom line, but a blockbuster adding MORE screens to its total this far into its box office run is unheard of. Even the 2009 Avatar never added this many more screens to its total, it actually lost theaters in its fourth weekend, dropping about forty screens total. One of Avatar: The Way of Water‘s closest rivals in terms of box office success is Avengers: Endgame, which lost four hundred theaters in its fourth weekend (which is a different case since theater count in the summer time will trend downward quickly was new movies are released).
Perhaps the closest example to Avatar: The Way of Water in terms of recent box office longevity, and by which we can compare this theater count news to, is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Episode VII of the franchise opened on 4,134 screens back in 2015, and held that number through its first four weeks. It’s worth noting that when comparing the actual box office totals of Avatar 2 and The Force Awkaens up through this point the Lucasfilm franchise is the clear winner. As of this writing, Avatar: The Way of Water has brought in $464.95 million, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens had surpassed $764 million in the US.
Only two movies released after 2020 have managed to crack the All-Time Top 10 movies at the Domestic box office, 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home with $814 million and Top Gun: Maverick with $718 million. It’s starting to look like Avatar 2 may not hit those kinds of numbers in the US, but its international total could very well see it cross $2 billion at the worldwide box office.