“Avatar: The Way of Water.”
20th Century Studios
- “Avatar” director James Cameron defended his upcoming sequel’s potential three-hour runtime.
- He compared it to binge-watching TV: “I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row.”
- The first “Avatar” is two hours and 42 minutes long and is the highest-grossing movie ever.
After 13 years, the “Avatar” sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” comes to theaters in December, and its director James Cameron is already defending the movie’s potential three-hour runtime.
Cameron, who’s directed other hits like “Terminator,” “Aliens,” and “Titanic,” compared it to binge-watching TV in the streaming era.
“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” Cameron told Empire Magazine. “I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a fucking break.”
“I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row,” he added. “Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”
The first “Avatar” clocked in at two hours and 42 minutes, and is the highest-grossing movie in the world (before adjusting for inflation) with $2.8 billion from the global box office.
“Avatar” briefly lost that title after “Avengers: Endgame” surpassed it in 2019, but reclaimed it after a rerelease in China last year, earning an additional $57 million. Disney will release the movie again worldwide in September ahead of the sequel’s December launch.
A long runtime doesn’t necessarily impact a movie’s box-office chances. Cameron knows that better than most: “Titanic,” which is over three hours long, is the No. 3 highest-grossing movie ever but held the top spot for 12 years until “Avatar” was released in 2009.
Most recently, “The Batman,” which is just shy of three hours long, earned over $700 million worldwide.
Theatrical industry execs have high hopes for “The Way of Water” ending the year strong at the box office. Cameron is making the movie in many different formats, from Imax to 3D, and toying with high frame rates and high dynamic range.
“That shows off the great range of technological experiences and visual experiences that you can have in cinemas that you can never get at home,” John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told Insider earlier this year. “That’s part of our comeback story, too.”
“The Way of Water” is the first of four planned “Avatar” sequels to be released this year, 2024, 2026, and 2028.