Avatar: The Way of Water, the highly-anticipated sequel to Avatar (2009), has secured a theatrical release in China. The film will hit Chinese theaters on December 16, the same day it is set to open worldwide.
The futuristic Avatar franchise is set on a planet named Pandora, inhabited by a native species called the Na’vi. The first film is the highest-grossing movie of all time, making more than 2.9 billion USD in the 13 years since its initial release.
The Chinese release of The Way of Water will come near the end of a difficult year for Chinese box offices, due to factors like Covid-19 lockdowns and limited international film releases.
As of the beginning of November, total box office revenue in China was less than half the amount made by this time in 2019, and 35% down compared to 2021.
Domestic theaters have also been suffering from a dearth of new films this year. Some of the biggest international hits in recent months, including Top Gun: Maverick, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, have failed to get approval from Chinese film regulators.
However, Avatar: The Way of Water has been spared the same fate. It may be able to re-energize Chinese moviegoers, who shelled out about 200 million USD for the first Avatar film.
A Chinese release is also great news for 20th Century Studios, which is estimated to have spent more than a billion dollars making the film. After all, China is still the world’s second-largest movie market, even with its sluggish box office this year.
Director James Cameron’s own star power may benefit Avatar 2’s performance in Chinese theaters. His 1997 film Titanic has been enduringly popular, and it is still one of the most searched films in China.
All images via Weibo
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