Disney and 20th Century confirmed Tuesday that James Cameron’s award-winning movie Avatar — still the top-grossing film of all time — will return to theaters nationwide and overseas on Sept. 23 in remastered 4K High Dynamic Range.
The rerelease of Avatar comes three months before the highly anticipated sequel Avatar: The Way of Water hits the big screen around the globe, including on Dec. 16 in North America.
Avatar is the top-grossing film of all-time at the worldwide box office, collecting $2.84 billion in ticket sales.
Comscore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian says playing the original film will help provide a marketing tailwind ahead of the sequel. “Disney sees a benefit in rereleasing the movie as a reminder to fans in North America, most of whom have not seen the all-time global box office champ since its special-edition release almost 12 years ago,” says Dergarabedian.
In 2010, the special-edition Avatar event did big business for a rerelease, earning $10.7 million in North America and $34 million overseas for a total of $44 million. And in early 2021, the rerelease of the fantasy adventure in China earned an impressive $57.7 million.
While September always tends to be on the quieter side, September 2022 is notably lean in terms of high-profile Hollywood product as studios contend with an ongoing post-production backlog due to the pandemic. This could benefit the Avatar release. As of now, the only other nationwide release scheduled for Sept. 23 is the indie film The Railway Children Return, a family adventure.
20th Century and Disney revealed the first teaser trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water in early May, shortly aver CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners.
During the Avatar: The Way of the Water presentation at CinemaCon, producer Jon Landau first announced plans to rerelease the original Avatar on Sept. 23 with restored picture and sound. “We need to make sure [audiences] have an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and that needs to be exclusively in theaters,” said Landau.
Cameron, Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment, along with 20th Century and Disney, are expected to offer The Way of Water in a wide variety of formats to support the range of theater installations, including the use of 3D, 4K and a high frame rate of 48 frames per second.
Each of the four Avatar sequels will center on returning Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, along with Na’vi Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldaña, and their family, and the lengths they go to keep each other safe.