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3 charts: Avatar 2 v Top Gun Mav, Patents record?, WWE on fire?

Avatar 2. James Cameron has done it again.

Avatar: The Way of Water has firmly broken its way into the top 10 highest-grossing global movies of all time, following in the footsteps of the record-breaking original from 2009, a positive sign for the movie-making industry.

At the worldwide box office, Avatar 2 is now up to $1.7bn, making it the biggest cinematic release of 2022. In the US, however, its $517m takings haven’t quite been enough to knock Top Gun: Maverick off the top spot — though it’s tracking to do so based on the first 24 days of the movie’s release. Whether Avatar maintains the trajectory to get past Tom Cruise & Co. will be interesting, as Top Gun 2 had a remarkably long cinema shelf-life.

The way of the sequel

As discussed in our annual summary, 2022 in 5 Charts, every one of the 10 biggest movies of last year was either a franchise sequel, spin-off, or reboot — with the highest-grossing original coming in the form of biopic Elvis. So it's no surprise that plans are already in place for Avatar 3, 4 and 5.

However, a small part of director James Cameron may have thought he might not end up making the later sequels, as The Way of Water needed to become one of the highest grossing of all time just to break even. With success assured, Cameron stated in an interview that "[the film] will easily pass our break even in the next few days, so it looks like I can’t wiggle out of this, I’m gonna have to do these other sequels". Looks like Disney has another mega-franchise on its hands.

The total number of patents filed in the US has also risen, with record numbers being granted in recent years.

That trend has also been reflected globally, with 2021 setting a new global record number of IP filings for patents, trademarks and designs to protect innovations — with Asia filing 64% of the 1.7 million patents filed worldwide.

... or just a paperwork pile-up?

Preparing a patent submission usually requires lawyers or experts, and total costs can routinely run into the many thousands for complex ideas or submissions. That is why tech giants, who can monetize their intellectual property more efficiently than individual inventors, always top the patent tables.

Interestingly, IBM — which topped the patent league tables for 29 years in a row before losing its crown to Samsung — has just switched tack. The company dropped its patent count by 44% last year in a bid to free up resources from the time-consuming patent process.

Wrestling moves

Vince McMahon is back on the board at WWE, 6 months after stepping away from the company following hush-money accusations and alleged sexual misconduct.

The announcement of McMahon’s return made WWE shares one of the best performing stocks on Friday, rising nearly 17% amidst reports of a potential sale that the controversial CEO may help to oversee.


Originally established as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1953, WWE has long dominated the world of professional wrestling promotion, having kickstarted the careers of stars like Hulk Hogan, Dwayne Johnson and John Cena. Any potential buyers will inherit a content behemoth; WWE matches are broadcast across 180 countries, in 30 different languages, and are available in 1 billion homes around the globe.

Indeed, the company’s media segment is by far its biggest money spinner — in 2021 WWE earned $936m broadcasting its flagship shows like SmackDown, Raw and NXT in the US and around the world. The live entertainment arm, understandably, took a hit in recent years, pulling in just $58m in 2021, less than 50% of 2019’s $126m figure.

Still, after posting its first billion-dollar revenue year in history, it’s clear that WWE continues to have the wider world wrestling industry in a headlock.

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