Disney is focusing on James Cameron’s sequel to restore a formula that had been written off by consumers fed up with cash-grab conversions: “Warming up 3D must be done with care and consideration.”
Beyond the Marvel film’s remarkable $449 million global opening weekend (including $187 million domestically), the juxtaposition of an exclusive in-theater teaser trailer for James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar sequel with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness marked a crucial occasion. Nearly 10% of moviegoers in North America paid an extra 20 to 30% for a 3D ticket, an unheard-of increase for a system that many had written off ever since the COVID-19 catastrophe.
Avatar, released in 2009, epitomized the promise of 3D, generating $2.8 billion worldwide and is the highest-grossing picture of all time. However, the promise of bigger box office returns delayed the 3D train just as it was leaving the station in the years that followed. Now, Disney and 20th Century Fox (along with their competitors) are hoping that Avatar:
The Way of Water will bring the format back as a crucial differentiation. “At a time when consumers are used to watching content at home, anything that motivates them to go to theatres has to be a benefit for us and the industry as a whole,” says Tony Chambers, Disney’s chief of worldwide film distribution. It’s all about having a good time. Things will come out time and again if done correctly. The message will be to watch Avatar 2 for the experience rather than for the 3D.”
It’s all about enjoying yourself. If done correctly, opportunities will happen again and again. The message will be that Avatar 2 should be seen for the observation rather than the 3D.”
Theater owners aren’t opposed to a 3D comeback because it increases their profits. “When done effectively, 3D is a feasible choice, but it must be an integrated part of the storytelling,” says Patrick Corcoran, vice president, and chief communications officer of the National Association of Theatre Owners. “It isn’t the panacea for all problems, but it can’t be overlooked.”