The Way of Water’ gets coveted China release

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

Disney

Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” has been released in China, a promising sign for a film that needs big box office sales to make up for its huge budget.

The much-anticipated sequel to 2009’s “Avatar” is one of only a handful of Hollywood films to have been granted access to the Chinese market in recent months. Officials in the region, which had already begun tightening restrictions on Western films before the pandemic, have been tight-lipped about what films can be shown to 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 sequel’s budget is so high, the film would need to become the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history to break even. This means that the film will need to cross the $2 billion mark worldwide.

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

Before the pandemic, China was the second-highest grossing theater market in the world. Since the reopening of cinemas in the country, it has been one of the fastest growing markets to recover and generate box office success.

In 2009, China’s total box office reached $910 million. A decade later, it had 8 billion dollars at the box office.

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Perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it will be 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 U.S. and China, the biggest global opening weekend in cinema history.

“Avatar” saw huge success during its initial release in China, and was later re-released in early 2021, as audiences flocked to cinemas to watch the film in premium format. These screenings are more expensive than traditional laser or digital shows and can boost overall ticket sales.

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