Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the release of SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, a film that many consider the beginning of the post-pandemic box office. The film opened to $260M in the face of surging Omicron cases, thus proving that audiences will put their safety concerns aside for the right movie.
A year later, as audiences feel even safer going to the theater, we get AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Like SPIDER-MAN, AVATAR is being hailed as a box office savior after months of lukewarm offerings, BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER aside.
Can AVATAR match the opening for SPIDER-MAN? Most pundits think it will fall short of that debut but will leg out bigger grosses in the long run.
Side by side, the two films have identical awareness. Both films reached 73% awareness by the time they opened.
But things go sideways, or rather downward, when we look at interest. Almost all big budget films see a rise in interest in the final weeks leading up to release. It’s rare that interest drops in the home stretch. And yet that’s precisely what has happened to AVATAR. After peaking at 6.9 in late November, its interest score has dipped to 6.5.
That leaves AVATAR with the 6th highest interest score of 2022 behind JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (7.1), THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (7.0), THE BATMAN (6.9), BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (6.9), and DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (6.5).
For a film that reportedly has to gross $2 billion to be profitable, a dip in interest can cause concern. The good news is that reviews have been strong, which means the film could have legs. Keep an eye on those exit scores. If they’re good, a lower-than-expected opening may not be a problem.