Avatar 2 will be Disney’s first blockbuster in China in three years

A still from Avatar 220th Century Studios

Avatar 2 has landed a theatrical release in China, making it the first blockbuster under Disney to hit the country in three years.

Avatar: The Way of Water, the highly-anticipated sequel to James Cameron’s mega-hit, is on the horizon at long last. It’s expected to be one of the biggest movies of the year, with Avatar 2 set to dominate cinemas small and large in December.

Avatar is still the highest-grossing movie of all time by a huge distance, bolstered by its re-release earlier this year. However, the first film had a major box office weapon: China.

It was a worldwide phenomenon, but Avatar changed the landscape of moviegoing in China, and it looks like history may repeat itself with the sequel.

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Avatar 2 gets China release date

Avatar 2 will be released in China on December 16, 2022, the same date as the movie hits cinemas in the US, UK, and other countries.

It comes after several movies under the Disney banner were blocked from China, including Eternals, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Lightyear, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. A Marvel movie hasn’t been released in China since 2019.

Why weren’t they approved for release? Various reasons, including Chloé Zhao’s seemingly controversial comments about China, a copy of The Epoch Times appearing in the background of Doctor Strange 2, and the “depiction of openly gay characters” in Black Panther 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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For reference, the original Avatar’s success in China was and remains unprecedented: 30% of the opening weekend’s box office came from IMAX during last year’s re-release, despite accounting for 1% of Chinese screens, and it generated a whopping $58 million.

Its lifetime gross in China has amounted to more than $260 million, nearly 10% of the movie’s entire haul.

It comes after James Cameron said the movie would have to become the third or fourth highest-grossing movie in history just to break even. That means a box office haul of at least $2 billion, making it the highest-grossing movie since Endgame – but with China secured, this could actually be possible.

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Avatar: The Way of Water hits cinemas on December 16, 2022. You can find out more about the sequel here.