Avatar: The Way of the Water, the highly anticipated and anticipated sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 multi-billion dollar box office hit, has finally hit theaters. It’s been more than a decade since fans were last transported to Pandora, and Avatar: The Way of the Water looks to promise another wonderfully immersive experience, at least based on initial reviews.
The 2009s Avatar was a technical marvel and breakthrough for cinematic visual effects, making it a must-see on the big screen. Avatar: The Way of the Water is just as impressive, if not more so, with the visuals seemingly created for a theatrical experience.
But the world has changed quite a bit since 2009. Covid has upgraded the film industry and the rise of multiple streaming services has changed the way many people consume media. While Avatar: The Way of the Water is almost guaranteed to be best experienced at the cinema, three hours plus running time and an increase in Covid cases may have convinced many to just wait to see the film from home. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to wait a while.
Avatar: The Way of the Water is only available for viewing in cinemas. You can see the sequel in IMAX, 3D and on regular cinema screens.
It will eventually find its home on the Disney+ streaming service, but Disney has not announced when exactly that will be. How long it stays in theaters will likely depend on the box office.
Disney doesn’t seem to have a rigid schedule when it comes to taking their movies out of theaters and sending them to Disney+. For Marvel movies, it has taken anywhere from 47 days to 70 days to reach Disney+.
Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, released in theaters on Nov. 11 and Disney still hasn’t announced when it will arrive on Disney+, though early 2023 is the current estimate. However, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ sci-fi comedy Strange world hit theaters on November 23rd, but is already streaming on December 23rd. The difference is undoubtedly the ticket sales of each film. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has scored a whopping $771M at the global box office while Strange world faltered with just $54 million worldwide.
So along Avatar: The Way of the Water, it will almost certainly depend on box office numbers. Estimates for early opening weekend seem encouraging so far. But even if Avatar: The Way of the Water can’t capture the same box office success as its predecessor, I wouldn’t expect Disney to rush into streaming. Early reports suggested that the production budget alone was in the region of $250 million, but director James Cameron recently stated that the sequel would have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history just to break even. Given those costs, Disney probably wants it to stay in theaters a little longer.
We’re definitely looking at a 2023 release window for Avatar: The Way of the Water on Disney+. The question is whether it will be earlier or later in the year. When it comes to home release, you’ll be able to watch it on Disney+ with a subscription or rent or buy it digitally on Prime Video at some point. In the meantime, the only way is to watch Avatar: The Way of the Water is at the cinema.