By: Zachary Kershaw
When Avatar (2009) first premiered in theaters, it shattered expectations from producers and viewers alike. The budget for the film was around 237 million dollars but the film had no trouble exceeding that in terms of revenue.
Beginning on Sept. 23, movie theaters across the nation, including AMC theaters near Tampa, will begin showing Avatar again. The upcoming film, Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), is set to hit theaters on Dec. 16. So, fans will have the chance to behold Cameron’s sci-fi spectacle prequel once again prior to the new movie coming out.
According to IMDbpro, “Avatar has the highest lifetime box office gross value at $2,847,397,339.”
One element of the film that sets it aside from others of the time was the inclusion of computer-generated imagery (CGI). These visuals were revolutionizing at the time.
The work was far from finished following the initial release in 2009. Film director and producer, James Cameron has been at work on multiple additions to the Avatar franchise indicating that the release this December will not be the last visit to the planet Pandora.
This is not the first time a marketing tactic such as this one has been used before an upcoming sequel is released. Last summer, prior to Top Gun: Maverick’s (2022) release, theaters throughout the United States played the prequel before the release of the film.
The time gap between the prequel and sequel in the case of the Top Gun franchise is over three decades. And yet, theaters nationwide decided to show Top Gun to generate hype for Top Gun: Maverick. This produced a renaissance for fans of Top Gun since its release in 1986 and also garnered the attention of the younger generation, who were not around to experience the original playing in theaters.
The idea is very much the same with the Avatar franchise; to grow the audience and general interest so that The Way of Water can be as successful as possible. By re-establishing an older fan base and simultaneously igniting an entirely new one, both movies stand to benefit exponentially.
“I’m curious about it now because I never saw the original in theaters,” said Thomas Cohen, communications professor at The University of Tampa. “But now that it’s back in theaters I think I may have to.”
“That movie was insane when I was younger, so I am for sure going to see it again and I am definitely going to see the new one around Christmas,” said Patricio Gonzalez, junior at UT.
Currently, the cinema industry faces a great number of competitors vying for their consumers’ attention. Streaming services are more prevalent than ever in society. Combined with the presence of COVID-19, movie theaters have been searching for new avenues of revenue. If this format appeases the public, then there is no logical reason for either the movie making companies or the theaters themselves to discontinue this slowly forming pattern.
To counteract the rising popularity of streaming services, many filmmaking companies will attempt to create something unattainable in the living room. For instance, the trademark widescreen format and surround sound are notable in films. These features can elevate films and immerse the audience but are generally difficult to replicate in a home.
“That’s what movies had to do as television became popular,” said Cohen. “Why should I pay to go to the movies when I can watch it in my living room?”
Producers and directors such as Cameron seek to tell wonderful stories that captivate and entertain audiences on the big screen. When The Way of Water hits theaters after nearly a decade, it is almost sure to do numbers at the box office. Until then, fans will have the opportunity to re-experience a record breaking movie.