By Dean Seal
Shares of Walt Disney Co. shed 3%, to $87.35, in early trading after “Avatar: The Way of Water” earned $435 million worldwide in its debut weekend but missed expectations in key markets.
The science-fiction epic made $134 million domestically, falling short of tracking estimates of between $150 million and $175 million in North America based on advance ticket sales.
The James Cameron-directed blockbuster earned $57.1 million in China as lingering concerns over the coronavirus tempered ticket sales. Disney described the result as disappointing, given the runaway success of the first “Avatar” movie in China.
“The problem is nobody wants to go to the cinema, because they’ve been told that Covid is extremely dangerous,” said Tony Chambers, Disney’s global head of theatrical distribution. “Although cinemas are open, the appetite for going to them isn’t really there.”
The original “Avatar” film, released in 2009, opened to $77 million domestically and ultimately became the highest-grossing movie ever, raking in nearly $2.9 billion globally.
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