US Reporter

Avatar 2 Starts Strong in Chinese Cinemas

Avatar: The Way of Water debuted on Friday and is anticipated to help the Covid-stricken Chinese cinema proprietors.

The Avatar sequel premiered 13 years after the original movie caught the country by storm. Before the film premiered, Disney and James Cameron set expectations high for the movie. Fortunately, it could just become a smash in China, which has been cutting off Western movies to show within the country. However, with the new Covid lockdowns in effect, many theater operators fear severe losses, which started following the lockdowns in 2020.

Avatar: The Way of Water earned 104 million yuan ($15 million) in its first weekend. This represents record sales of a foreign movie televised in China. According to experts, more will come in the following days as many Chinese viewers wish to see the film. More than 1.4 million Chinese viewers expressed interest in the film via the Maoyan internet ticketing app. This makes the latest Avatar movie the most anticipated film of 2022.

“When Avatar 1 was released, I was just in junior high school. I just remember that it was the first time I watched a 3D film and was deeply shocked by the special effects,” said Nissi Hu, a resident of Dalian, a city in Northern China.

“My 3D glasses were covered with fog, and I secretly unzipped the protective suit a bit. I didn’t feel bored. Instead, I immersed myself in the plot and enjoyed an unprecedented audio-visual feast,” she added.

“In the big picture, I’d expect a leggy box office run whose story won’t be told on opening weekend alone. This is not a comic book blockbuster with an apparent rabid fan base to front-load sales. James Cameron’s films have historically engaged general audiences deep into their theatrical windows. However, it’s worth considering that the box office climate has changed even since his previous Avatar film in 2009,” said Shawn Robbins, chief media analyst.

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Chinese viewing

Avatar: The Way of Water should ease the poor conditions of China’s box office. The country has been in lockdown for over two years, with Xi Jinping imposing the zero-Covid policy. The Chinese government’s strict regulations have frequently resulted in the closure of several economic centers, harming enterprises and the Chinese film industry. Cinema managers stated the Avatar movie is a ‘lifesaver’ for them.

“Chinese audiences have a strong appetite for the sequel. On leading ticketing app Maoyan, 1.24 million users had said they “want to see” The Way of Water, slightly more than those who indicated likewise before the release of China’s biggest 2021 film, The Battle at Lake Changjin, which earned $899 million,” wrote Patrick Brzeski.

“It’s very hard to predict the box office right now. It all depends on the lockdowns — and we have no idea exactly what the lockdown situation is going to look like across the whole of China next week,” explained Jimmy Wu, Lumiere Pavilions CEO.

“Then again, James Cameron has beaten the odds in China before. Among Chinese millennials, few titles are as stirringly nostalgic as the first Avatar. The movie was among the first wave of Hollywood blockbusters to sweep the country as it was entering its high-growth box office boom era of the late aughts — and Avatar became the biggest sensation of them all,” added Brzeski.

Breaking even

In an interview with reporters, director James Cameron confessed that the film’s production costs were so excessive that they needed to shatter records to break even. That is why Disney and Cameron have pushed the Avatar movie into something that needs to be viewed in 3D. So, naturally, 3D watching is more expensive than 2D viewing. However, if consumers subscribe to the 3D version of the film, overall ticket sales will climb.

“I like difficult. I’m attracted by difficulty. Difficult is a fucking magnet for me. So I go straight to difficult. And I think it probably goes back to this idea that there are many smart, gifted, talented filmmakers out there that just can’t do the difficult stuff. So that gives me a tactical edge to do something nobody else has ever seen because the gifted people don’t fucking want to do it,” said Cameron.

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China will accept more Hollywood films

The latest Avatar film screening may open the door for future Hollywood films to be accepted into the nation. As a result, cities have relaxed rules and allow a fresh slate of films to be shown to local audiences. According to Maoyan, approximately 9,300 theatres were available for viewing on Friday, indicating a 110% increase from a week earlier.

Maoyan also claimed that Avatar: The Way of Water’s revenue made up 80% of all ticket sales in China. According to observers, the Avatar film may be the largest foreign film ever seen in the country. They estimate the film will gross about 5 billion yuan ($717 million).

“Avatar 2’s release is a symbolic event for China importing foreign films. We expect more Hollywood output to come to China,” said a Chinese analyst

“The solid pre-sales data tell us that people have a strong desire to watch Avatar 2. But there’s the risk of them not wanting to go to cinemas fearful of contracting the virus,” added another analyst.

Photo Credit: VCG 

Source: CNN


Opinions expressed by US Reporter contributors are their own.