Set more than ten years after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Waterway tells the story of the Sully family.
Disney’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is a promising sign for a film that needs big box office sales in China to offset its big budget.
The much-anticipated sequel to 2009’s Avatar is one of several Hollywood films to reach the Chinese market in recent months. Government officials in the region, who had begun tightening restrictions on Western films even before the pandemic, were strict about what films could be shown to 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 tag on “Waterway,” but estimates put it at more than $250 million. The writer and director told GQ magazine that the sequel’s budget is so high that it would need to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history to break even. That means the film should cross $2 billion globally.
International ticket sales were a major factor in Avatar’s box office success overall in 2009, with $2.13 billion of the film’s $2.91 billion in ticket sales coming from outside the domestic market. China contributed about $265 million.
Before the pandemic, China was the second-highest grossing theater market in the world. It has been one of the fastest growing and box office markets ever since cinemas reopened in the country.
In 2009, China’s total box office reached 910 million dollars. Ten years later, his box office exceeded 8 billion dollars.
Perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it takes place on December 16th, the same day as its domestic debut. Disney succeeded 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 during its initial release, and was later re-released in early 2021, as audiences flocked to theaters to watch the film in premium format. These displays are more expensive than traditional laser or digital displays and can boost overall ticket sales.