The Way of Water’ gets coveted China release

More than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” tells the story of the Sully family.

Disney

Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has been given a favorable release in China, a promising sign for a film that needs big box office sales to offset its massive budget.

The long-awaited sequel to 2009’s “Avatar” is one of the few Hollywood films to have made inroads into the Chinese market in recent months. Government officials in the region, who began tightening restrictions on Western films even before the pandemic, have been tight-lipped about what films can be screened for its entertainment-starved audiences.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and posted on 20th Century Studios’ official Weibo account.

Director James Cameron hasn’t put a price tag on “The Way of Water,” but estimates put it at more than $250 million. The writer and director told GQ magazine that the budget for the sequel was so high that the film would need to become the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That means the film needs to cross the $2 billion mark globally.

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International ticket sales, on average, were a major factor in “Avatar’s” box office success in 2009, with $2.13 billion of the film’s total ticket sales coming from outside the domestic market and $2.91 billion. China contributed about 265 million dollars.

Before the pandemic, China was the world’s second-highest-grossing theatrical market. Since cinemas reopened in the country, it has been the fastest market to recover and generate box office success.

In 2009, China’s total box office revenue was $910 million. A decade later, its box office gross exceeded $8 billion.

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Perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it will take place on December 16, the same day as its domestic debut. Disney saw success with this strategy when it released “Avengers: Endgame” on the same day in the US and China, leading to the highest global opening weekend in cinema history.

“Avatar” was a huge success in China on its initial release and was later re-released in early 2021, with audiences flocking to theaters to watch the film in premium formats. These screenings are more expensive than traditional laser or digital shows and can boost overall ticket sales.

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