The Way Of Water’ London World Premiere red carpet cast and event review

Avatar: The Way of Water’ World Premiere

Attendees to Tuesday’s massive undertaking including director/producer/co-writer Cameron, producer Jon Landau and cast members Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet strolled a blue carpet laid out in the square ahead of the premiere this evening.

Almost 13 years to the day after James Cameron unveiled his 3D sci-fi epic Avatar in London’s Leicester Square, the filmmaker is back in town to present the world premiere of sequel Avatar: The Way of Water.

The 20th Century Studios picture is actually screening simultaneously in two cinemas in Leicester Square tonight, such was the anticipation for the follow-up to the world’s highest grossing movie ever.

From the stage inside the Odeon West End, Cameron said: “Thanks for coming. I don’t know about you, this is a pretty surreal moment for me that we are done with the film. Five years of production and five years spanning a really dark period. The pandemic hit, we were shut down completely. I was despairing this art form I love that I dedicated four decades to was over. We finally got back to work but we didn’t know if there would be movie theaters. Was it over? But here we are.

“Theaters are full again and moviegoers of the world have declared resoundingly that we need this. We need this ability to gather together to sit in these great dark spaces and to dream together with our eyes wide open in a cinema. To me tonight is not about a new Avatar film. It’s about cinema, and here you are in your black-tie finery. It’s a celebration of this art form that we love so much. It’s back it’s alive and it’s as great as it’s ever been.”

While Cameron and Landau were speaking in that smaller venue, attendees around the corner at the Odeon Leicester Square were treated to music by a live orchestra. Cameron and Landau then hoofed it back to the main cinema and took to the stage with cast in tow ahead of the screening.

Cast and filmmakers have been in London since Sunday promoting the movie, which Disney starts rolling out globally beginning December 14, with domestic joining December 16.

Avatar: The Way of Water is set more than a decade after the events of the first film. It centers on the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive and the tragedies they endure as they strive to protect their home on Pandora.

Disney, Cameron and Landau have been making the rounds with footage from the film, screening during June’s CineEurope conference in Barcelona and at D23 in September as well as for execs from China Film Group (a China release has been confirmed day-and-date with North America on December 16).

Disney also released a remastered 4K HDR version of the original film in September to set the table for the sequel, and included sneak footage tagged onto the end.

Avatar: The Way of Water hit tracking last month with a projected opening of at least $150 million. Tracking has it higher near $175M, but rivals are bullish at $200M. Advance tickets went on sale two weeks ago for the pic, which is 3 hours and 12 minutes long.

The 2009 original grossed $2.9 billion at the global box office and after a few re-releases is the highest-grossing film of all time. Domestically it is at $785.2M, where it ranks as the fourth highest all time.

When was it originally due to be released?

In 2010, a year after the original Avatar, 20th Century Fox (as the company was then called, before it was sold to Disney) said there would be two sequels, and that the first of those would be released in December 2014.

That target proved to be somewhat ambitious. And for the next few years, a regular story out of Hollywood was that the release date had yet again slipped back.

December 2014 became December 2016. Which became December 2017. Which became December 2018. You get the idea. Anyway, it’s finally out next week, Friday 16 December 2022.

Why has it taken so long?

Cameron threw out one version of an Avatar sequel that, after writing it, he decided didn’t deliver.

The Canadian filmmaker also has a life outside cinema, and has spent some time doing deep ocean exploration (although maybe that counts as research for the new film, much of which takes place in and under water).

Cameron also wanted to plot out four sequels. And to take full advantage of new filming developments in the worlds of motion capture and CGI.

How long is it?

Well, it’s not Cameron’s longest film. That honour goes to Titanic, which clocks in at a hefty 3hrs 15mins.

But Avatar: The Way of Water isn’t too far behind. Avatar 2, as it may otherwise be called, has a running time of approximately 3hrs and 12mins.

Slightly less if you dive out at the start of the lengthy end credits!

Who’s in it?

The stars of the original epic, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña have returned.

So does Sigourney Weaver who – (spoiler alert) – died in the original film.

They are joined by young newcomers Jack Champion, James Flatters, and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, alongside Oscar winner Kate Winslet.

How much money did the original make?

It’s made a total of $2.92bn (£2.39bn) at the global box office, and is the biggest film of all time (unadjusted for inflation).

It briefly lost its title to Avengers: Endgame in 2019, but regained it after Avatar was re-released.

Will I need 3D glasses to see it?

The film is being released in a variety of formats. Including 3D, 2D and Imax. So no one’s forcing you to see it in 3D if you don’t want to.

But perceived wisdom is that a big part of the original’s appeal was its stunningly immersive 3D sequences.

How many more sequels are planned?

Currently a total of four sequels are planned, including this one.

Avatar 2 is out next week, of course, while Avatar 3 has already been shot, and is due for release in 2024.

Avatar 4 has been partly shot ahead of a planned 2026 release. And Avatar 5 has a finished script. If it’s made, and there is a question mark over that, it’ll be out in 2028.

The uncertainty is because of the films’ cost. The Way of Water had a budget of more than $350m (£287m) which means it needs to be hugely successful at the box office to recoup its money.

If it’s a relative failure, it’s hard to see Disney putting up hundreds of millions more to finish a series that they think the viewing public may have lost interest in.

Do the sequels have names yet?

In 2018, BBC News revealed that the planned titles were The Way of Water, The Seed Bearer, The Tulkun Rider and The Quest for Eywa.

The Way of Water was finally confirmed in April of this year. Only James Cameron knows whether he will stick with the other titles.

What are The Way of Water’s chances at the Oscars?

The original was nominated for nine Oscars including best picture, losing out to The Hurt Locker.

Its wins included best production design and best visual effects. Many expect that a similar showing is possible at the 2023 Academy Awards.

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Stevie Flavio
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