Avatar 2 reboots 3D
Future. This year’s Avatar: The Way of Water is poised to bring back 3D into the mainstream. While the technology has been out of vogue for nearly a decade, the right creative project, mixed with audiences’ preference for premium theatrical experiences, could bring the format roaring back… and juice up box office revenue right when the exhibition industry needs it most.
A new vision
James Cameron is bringing more than just the long-awaited sequel to Avatar to theaters this Christmas… he’s potentially bringing back hype for 3D cinema.
- When the original Avatar debuted in late 2009 (!), over 70% of its record $2.85 billion at the box office came from 3D ticket sales.
- But despite 3D still being popular in places like Germany and Brazil, the 3D market has waned in interest (blame rushed post-conversions and dim projection), dragging down revenue to less than 30% of its 2010 levels.
- But when people heard that the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water would be attached to the new Doctor Strange, 3D ticket sales accounted for roughly 10% of the film’s opening weekend box office revenue — a massive surge.
THR reports that to get moviegoers in the 3D mood before Avatar debuts, Disney is making big pushes for the format for upcoming releases, including this summer’s Lightyear.
Studios and theater owners hope that 3D can supercharge a box office still depressed by COVID. Tony Chambers, Disney’s head of global film distribution, said, “at a time when people are used to being at home watching content, anything that encourages them to go to theaters has to be a positive for us and the industry in general.”
And with Cameron at the helm, audiences may see the 3D as necessary to the experience — not just a gimmick to be exploited. As Avatar producer Jon Landau noted, 3D is being used as a “window into the world” of Pandora, “giving people something that they cannot get anywhere else.”