James Cameron is absolutely right about the biggest challenge he faces Avatar: The way of the water, but the film will successfully overcome it. In an interview with The New York Timesrecognized Cameron the gap of 12 years between Avatar and Avatar 2 as the main obstacle of the sequel. Avatar was groundbreaking when it was released in 2009, demonstrating the immersive capabilities of 3D technology. More than a decade laterAvatar is still the highest-grossing film of all time, but now that so much time has passed, Cameron is rightly concerned about The way of the water’s potential to replicate the success of its predecessor.
This concern is reflected in the box office forecasts for Avatar 2, which are significantly lower than the opening weekend of the original film. The cinema landscape has changed a lot since then Avatar‘s release in 2009, populated with legacy sequels, cinematic universes and superhero movies. Despite this, none of the hugely successful Marvel movies have been toppled Avatar of its position as the highest-grossing film of all time. Avengers: Endgame came close, but fell just over $100 million short, suggesting that Avatar has greater commercial appeal, which bodes well for Avatar 2‘s potential box office success.
Avatar was released in 2009 as theater chains were transitioning from analog to digital projection. Cameron’s use of 3D was a dynamic showcase for the capabilities of this new technology and was the film’s main selling point. By 2022, the 3D bubble has long burst, so James Cameron and the studio are right to be careful Avatar 2‘s box office potential, but there are also many reasons to be optimistic.
James Cameron is right: the big problem with Avatar 2 is… who cares?
In the decade after Avatar‘s release, opinion about the film has cooled somewhat. While it’s still considered a groundbreaking visual spectacle, its derivative plot and underdeveloped characters keep it from being classified as a truly great movie. As Avatar 2 Jake (Sam Worthington) and others from the original film are unlikely to attract a large audience like Tom Cruise’s return in Top Gun: Maverick‘s was earlier in 2022.
Likewise, 3D is much less important in 2022 than in 2009. The long gap between Avatar and The way of the water has led to the incredible creative possibilities offered by Avatar were not substantially improved. The burden of making 3D commercially and creatively viable should not only have rested on James Cameron’s shoulders, but many of the post-release 3D films that followed. Avatar contributed to the consensus that 3D was a studio gimmick to make more money at the box office. While Avatar was a huge commercial success, the use of 3D was driven more by the desire to create a fully immersive digital world and groundbreaking theater experience than by commercial factors. It remains to be seen whether the effects of Avatar 2 will seduce the audience in the same way as with the original.
Why Avatar 2 is likely to be a huge success
Despite the long gap and shift in perception from the original, early signs for Avatar 2 are promising. According to Cameron’s interview in The New York Times, the trailer got 148 million views on YouTube within 24 hours. Those numbers represent a demonstrable interest in the sequel, which has only been reinforced by Avatar‘s recent theatrical reissue, with an opening weekend gross of $30 million, worldwide. avatar’The theater reissue was a perfect opportunity to remind audiences of what made the original so appealing. The appeal of James Cameron’s blockbuster hit was never the derivative anti-colonial and ecological parable, or the wafer-thin heroes and villains, it was the richly realized world of Pandora.
James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will explore further depths of his fictional world that will further revolutionize filmmaking techniques. The footage released so far gives audiences an idea of what to expect from Cameron’s depiction of Pandora’s underwater ecosystem, and it’s just as dazzling as the original film’s forests. In a box office landscape filled with well-known legacy characters from the world of comic books and beloved movie franchises, Pandora represents something new to the public.
James Cameron loves cinema and is passionate about the theatrical experience. That passion has been realized in many of his earlier films and contributes to the huge box office success in general. Cameron understands that his Avatar sequel is risky, but the long gap between its original film and the sequel may prove to be a help rather than a hindrance. if Avatar 2 three years after the first came out, Cameron would still be working with the same technology, albeit with some minor upgrades. Had it failed, audiences would likely have felt that the sequel was a cash-in that couldn’t replicate the original film’s sense of wonder. As technology has evolved over the intervening decade, Avatar: The way of the water feels like a movie coming out at just the right time to fulfill Cameron’s vision. Not just any sequel that capitalizes on the success of the highest-grossing movie of all time. In a box office landscape dominated by interconnected cinematic universes and hastily played out sequels, Avatar sequel will be a breath of fresh air for audiences disillusioned with the state of modern blockbusters.
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