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Be prepared for a long soak.
Avatar 2 hopes to join an elite club of longer Hollywood tentpoles that have done blockbuster business in theaters, including Avengers: Endgame (three hours and 2 minutes) and Cameron’s Titanic (three hours and 14 minutes). The two films rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on Comscore’s list of the top-grossing movies of all time at the worldwide box office, not adjusted for inflation.
Cameron’s original Avatar, released in December 2009, remains No. 1 all these years later. That film was some 29 minutes shorter than the sequel, or two hours and 41 minutes.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, movies have gotten longer, with many Hollywood event pics running over two hours and 30 minutes, which, by traditional standards, is considered lengthy. (One exception was Sony’s box office sensation Spider-Man: No Way Home, which came in just under the wire at two hours and 28 minutes.)
This trend will continue throughout the rest of the year. December tentpole Babylon, from Paramount and filmmaker Damien Chazelle, runs at least three hours, insiders tell THR. And Marvel and Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which opens Nov. 11, is two hours and 41 minutes. Matt Reeves’ The Batman, released earlier this year, ran two hours and 55 minutes.
A movie’s running time includes credits, which can take up as much as 10 minutes.
20th Century and Disney, home of The Way of Water, haven’t yet released an official runtime for the sequel, but the movie’s length began leaking out once it received an official rating. (In the U.S., the movie is rated PG-13.) Some theaters inadvertently listed the running time on their websites when posting the rating.
Disney, which inherited the Avatar franchise when buying up 20th Century Fox, declined comment.
In early September, Cameron beamed in from New Zealand at the D23 to showcase half a dozen scenes from The Way of Water, which the filmmaker also produced alongside his longtime Lightstorm partner Jon Landau. Stars Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang were in person at the convention. Much of the footage showed off Cameron’s immersive underwater work.
Not long after D23, Disney and 20th Century issued a remastered version of the first Avatar in order to prime audiences for the sequel. The rerelease grossed an impressive $76 million-plus at the global box office, bringing the film’s current gross to more than $2.92 billion.
Way of Water once again centers on Worthington’s Sully and Saldaña’s Na’vi character, Neytiri. It picks up a decade after the original and follows their family, with additional stars, including franchise newcomers Vin Diesel and Kate Winslet.
Avatar: The Way of Water opens in North America on Dec. 16, timed to its global rollout.
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