The Way of Water’ Gets Coveted China Release

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

Disney

from Disney “Avatar: The Way of Water” garnered a coveted release in China, a promising sign for a film that needs huge box office sales to offset its huge budget.

The long-awaited sequel to 2009’s “Avatar” is one of the few Hollywood movies granted access to the Chinese market in recent months. Government officials in the region, who began tightening restrictions on Western films even before the pandemic, have been strict about which films can be shown for their entertainment-hungry audience.

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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 on “The Way of Water,” but estimates suggest it is in excess of $250 million. The writer-director told GQ magazine that the budget for the sequel is so high that the film will need to become the third or fourth highest-grossing film ever to break even. That means the movie will have to cross the $2 billion mark worldwide.

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

Before the pandemic, China was the world’s second-highest-grossing theater market. Since theaters reopened in the country, it has been one of the markets that has recovered the fastest and generated box office success.

In 2009, China’s total box office reached $910 million. A decade later, its box office exceeded 8,000 million dollars.

Perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it will take place on December 16, the same day as its national 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 worldwide opening weekend in movie history.

“Avatar” was hugely successful in China during its initial release and subsequent re-release in early 2021, when audiences flocked to theaters to watch the film in premium formats. These projections are more expensive than traditional digital or laser projections and can boost overall ticket sales.

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