Even Disney Can't Save the Multiplex Now

Even Disney Can’t Save the Multiplex Now

At the box office, the new “Avatar” movie fails to live up to expectations.
Exhibitors had been circling this weekend on their release calendars for some time. Avatar by Walt Disney (DIS -4.77%): The highly anticipated sequel to James Cameron’s groundbreaking 2009 film Avatar, The Way of Water, opened in multiplexes near you and was intended to restore box office revenue. That was not exactly how it turned out.

Over the weekend, domestic ticket sales for the movie totaled $134 million, far below the $175 million that industry analysts had anticipated. Moreover, unlike previous major blockbuster premieres, the debut of the film did not produce the halo effect. In the past, when a “must-see” movie came out, people would flock to the nearest theater, and if the screenings they wanted were full, they would settle for other movies. It didn’t occur here.

This past weekend, domestic exhibitors sold a total of $152.5 million worth of tickets. That amounts to approximately $18.5 million in ticket sales for films that did not feature flying banshees in the beautifully portrayed land of Pandora. Compare that to the original Avatar’s halo effect. 13 years ago, when the average ticket price was just $7.50, the rest of the movies made a respectable $61 million for their debut weekend.

The business is not functioning properly. Disney’s pixie dust wasn’t sufficient to resurrect it.

The way that gravity works There are some good things. Imax had a good showing (IMAX -5.51%). Over the weekend, the provider of supersized theatrical experiences had the second-largest opening in the platform’s history, with $48.8 million in ticket sales worldwide. It generated a staggering 11.2% of the worldwide and 12.3% of domestic ticket sales for the movie. Imax performed particularly well in China, where it accounted for 27% of the film’s box office despite only showing it in 1% of all theaters. When Cameron is having a good time, Imax usually indulges.

In addition, the movie itself did not fail overseas. Over the weekend, it brought the total worldwide box office profits to approximately $435 million thanks to ticket sales that exceeded $300 million.

It is an absolute victory for domestic exhibitors,

but if you go on a relative basis, you won’t see many high-fives or victory laps. Although this weekend’s ticket sales were the second highest of the past five months for multiplex operators in the United States, they were still significantly lower than the $209.5 million that was collected during the release of Black Panther: Last month was Wakanda Forever.

In more ways than one, the sequel to Avatar does not come to an end here. In the upcoming years, Disney and Cameron plan to release three more films. The next entry won’t come out for another 13 years. It might also be premature to label it a failure. Christmas shopping and the World Cup finals probably kept potential moviegoers occupied over the course of the end of the week.

The majority of reviews for the film were favorable. Although the poll of film critics conducted by Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 78%, a whopping 94% of people who saw the movie enjoyed it. Positive verbal exchange could keep eager for popcorn crowds getting through special times of year and into January. Movie theater stocks face real challenges, but this buzzy release still has a chance to recover its enormous production budget and keep multiplex owners hopeful for a recovery in 2023.

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