"Avatar: The Way of Water" has made over $1 billion in ticket sales in just two weeks.
James Cameron's blockbuster, the sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time, joins "Jurassic World: Dominion" as a 10-figure earner this year and may depose Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick" as the highest-grossing 2022 release by the end of its time in theaters.
"Avatar's" performance means that 2022 will end with three films passing the billion-dollar threshold at the box office.
While that's a far cry from the nine billion-dollar grossers that 2019 — the final full box office year before the pandemic — had, it's still an increase from 2020 and 2021 which had zero and one movies earn over $1 billion, respectively.
Though some industry watchers had predicted that the domestic box office would cross $8 or $9 billion, those hopes were dashed in part because some big-budget films have been delayed, including another Tom Cruise title, the hotly-anticipated "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning".
"We might have been in a situation where we had two Tom Cruise blockbusters in the same year," says Daniel Loría, editorial director at BoxOffice.com. "So I think that's why we ended up on an ultimately disappointing number with ticket sales."
Despite there being 40% less film content in theaters this year compared to 2019, industry watchers still see hope for the cinematic experience.
"What we do know is we can still have cultural moments of going to the movies for something that's uniquely a cinema experience," Loría tells Make It. "But we are seeing less and less titles coming out from major studios."
These are the highest-grossing films of the year that received a significant domestic release, with data from Box Office Mojo as of Dec. 28.
Release date: April 8
Worldwide gross: $402 million
Release date: April 15
Worldwide gross: $405 million
Release date: July 8
Worldwide gross: $760 million
Release date: March 4
Worldwide gross: $770 million
Release date: November 11
Worldwide gross: $803 million (as of Dec. 28)
Release date: July 1
Worldwide gross: $939 million
Release date: May 6
Worldwide gross: $955.7 million
Release date: June 10
Worldwide gross: $1.001 billion
Release date: December 16
Worldwide gross: $1.03 billion (as of Dec. 28)
Release date: May 27
Worldwide gross: $1.48 billion