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Director James Cameron’s recent comments against streaming and the continual box office success of Avatar: The Way of Water may delay its release on Disney+.
Avatar 2 has grossed nearly $2 billion at the global box office and is already the highest-earning film since the 2020 pandemic.
Its current $1.92 billion global total is greater than the likes of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Top Gun Maverick. However, The Way of Water is still chasing those films’ box office earnings in North America, largely reaching its total box office numbers due to the international market.
Based on its continued success since the December 16th release date, there’s no rush to release The Way of Water on streaming compared to comparable 2022 blockbusters.
Writer, director, and movie theater advocate James Cameron kept his thoughts simple on the Golden Globes red carpet:
“Enough with the streaming already! I’m tired of sitting on my ass,” Cameron exclaimed during an interview with Variety.
If it was ever in doubt, Avatar: The Way of Water is a profitable film, with a series of sequels confirmed to be moving forward. Much of that success is due to premium theater offerings such as RPX, 3D, and IMAX.
Cameron’s approach to movies remains similar to star Tom Cruise’s commitment to giving audiences incredible experiences, meant to be seen in a theater. However, it’s 2023, and eventually even Top Gun: Maverick (after an incredible box office run) hit Paramount+ on December 22.
Unlike Cruise (who literally had a clause in his contract that allowed him to dictate how long Maverick would run in theaters), Cameron may be more at the will of Disney executives.
Disney’s other late 2022 blockbuster, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, will be available to stream on Disney+ on February 1, 82 days after its release. A major difference from Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness‘ debut on Disney+ 47 days after theatrical release.
As the studio gets farther away from the new tendencies due to the pandemic, it will likely continue to let successful films stay exclusively in theaters for longer.
While Paramount Pictures operated differently than Disney, Top Gun: Maverick‘s 209-day gap between theatrical release and streaming service release is important to consider.
The most probable situation is that The Way of Water will release between 100 and 200 days after release. Given the fact that Wakanda Forever has earned over $1 billion less than Avatar 2, it will be given even more time the soak up any additional box office dollars.
Black Panther 2 may also get a significant bump at the box office, as the film will be opening in China on February 7. This marks the first MCU film to release at the Chinese box office since 2019, while Avatar 2 has grossed over $200 million in China since its release.
Given the recent adjustments by Disney’s Marvel release strategy, it’s clear that The Way of Water will release later than expected on the studio’s marquee streaming platform.
Sometime in the month of April could be Disney+ subscribers’ best chance of the first time they’ll see Avatar 2 available to begin streaming. 2009’s Avatar is currently available to watch on the service.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently playing in theaters worldwide.