There's a big advantage to being the last tentpole release before the arrival of a James Cameron movie: you can dominate during the calm before the storm. Such is the advantage enjoyed by "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," which is enjoying its fifth consecutive weekend at the #1 spot during an otherwise deathly quiet box office.

The 13-years-in-the-making sequel to the biggest movie of all time, "Avatar: The Way of Water" is also the first feature directed by Cameron since 2009's "Avatar." Despite its monstrous success at the box office, "Avatar" has also weathered a lot of criticism in the last decade-plus: from accusations of being a "Pocahontas" rip-off, to arguments that it failed to have any lasting impact on pop culture, to obsessions over the font used for the title. No one is entirely sure whether "The Way of Water" can repeat the success of the original film — not even Cameron himself.

But Hollywood has learned not to bet against a James Cameron movie. Since "Wakanda Forever" arrived on November 11, the release schedule has been very quiet, with new movies largely made up of Oscar hopefuls and mid-budget fare like "Violent Night." No studio wants one of their major contenders to be caught in the window between a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and a James Cameron movie: the risks of either getting steamrolled by "Wakanda Forever" or crushed by "The Way of Water" are too high.

All of which means that, per The Wrap, this was the second lowest box office weekend of the year, second only to the weekend of January 28 when "Spider-Man: No Way Home" enjoyed its seventh weekend in the #1 spot (insert joke about Spider-Man being very leggy here).

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Passes A Milestone

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" added another $11 million to its domestic total this weekend, skipping over the $400 million milestone to a total of $409 million. Globally the film has grossed $767.8 million — a little more than "Thor: Love and Thunder" but considerably behind "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which had very strong overseas numbers. On the domestic side, though, "Multiverse of Madness" topped out at $411 million, meaning that "Wakanda Forever" is a sneeze away from becoming the biggest MCU movie of the year at the North American box office.

Now, all eyes will be on "Avatar: The Way of Water" as we find out whether we're in for just one more "Avatar" movie after this one, or whether the dawn of the "Avatar" dynasty is upon us. According to The Wrap, "The Way of Water" is expected to debut north of $150 million … but how far north remains to be seen.

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