‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ to Make Streaming Debut on Max and Disney+ in June

Ready to dive back into “Avatar: The Way of Water?” The James Cameron-directed epic, currently the third highest grossing movie of all-time, will make its streaming debut on Max and Disney+ on June 7.

The long-awaited sequel to Cameron’s “Avatar,” which was released back in 2009, hit theaters this past Christmas and almost immediately became a runaway success. The sequel, which once again starred Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang, saw our heroes from the first film, now with a family, hiding out with a tribe of Na’vi devoted to the water of Pandora. Of course, the villains from the first movie (now regenerated as even-more-lethal Na’vi avatars) catch up with our adorable Sully family and all hell breaks loose.

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With more than a decade between the original and the sequel and a running time of over three hours, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was far from a sure thing. But given how good the movie was, as an eye-popping visual thrill ride – and how emotional resonant its themes were, about animal rights, the sacredness of family and the importance of protecting our ocean – “Avatar: The Way of Water” quickly became a box office behemoth. It was later nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It took home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, for its genuinely next-level effects and animation.

Since opening around Christmas, “Avatar: The Way of Water” played in theaters and played well. Disney didn’t even release the movie for digital download until the end of March. And they still haven’t set a physical release date for the movie, which is odd considering it will undoubtedly be a reference-quality 4K Blu-ray release. (Earlier James Cameron movies like “The Abyss” and “True Lies” were never even released on Blu-ray, let alone 4K Blu-ray; the original “Avatar” never made it to 4K despite an upscaled theatrical re-release launching last fall.)

The reason that “Avatar: The Way of Water” will be arriving on both Disney+ and Max (the rebranded HBO Max) stems from a longstanding agreement between 20th Century Fox, which Disney acquired in 2019, and the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned streamer. This has caused much consternation in the past, with some 20th Century movies (made by Disney) going straight-to-Hulu just to work around the need to have those titles first be delivered to HBO Max/Max. Other joint HBO Max/Disney+ debuts included Steven Spielberg “West Side Story.”

Mercifully the agreement between 20th Century and HBO Max/Max ran through the end of 2022, so “Avatar: The Way of Water” will likely be the last Disney-owned 20th Century movie to go to the competitor’s platform first.

The next “Avatar” sequel is scheduled for Christmas 2024. It can’t come soon enough.

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