Source: Walt Disney Studios
It seems “Avatar” will be heading back to Chinese theaters this weekend, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.
Originally part of the rereleases preapproved by China’s Film Bureau in 2020, the 2009 sci-fi epic remained in Disney’s vault during the ongoing pandemic.
While China has been able to regain some ticket sales in recent months, its rollout of new blockbuster features has slowed in the wake of its Chinese New Year celebrations. Adding “Avatar” to its theaters can help drum up attendance and give operators a much needed boost.
The rerelease also gives Disney a bump. Not only will it receive some box office receipts, it also puts “Avatar” back in the running for highest-grossing film of all time.
Representatives for Disney did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In 2019, Disney finalized its deal to acquire entertainment assets from 20th Century Fox, including James Cameron’s “Avatar,” and released “Avengers: Endgame.” “Endgame” ultimately surpassed “Avatar” for the crown, garnering nearly $2.8 billion at the global box office.
Heading into this weekend, “Avatar” is less than $7.4 million behind the Marvel behemoth and could easily reclaim the title.
In doing so, Disney can drum up some marketing for its 2022 release of an “Avatar” sequel, the first of five coming in the next decade, and even set itself up to rerelease “Endgame” to earn back the record. Although, in owning both films, the competition is less about the title than the prestige that comes with it.
As it stands, Disney owns the top five highest-grossing films of all time and eight of the top ten. Notably, “Titanic,” which currently sits in third was a joint production between Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. The other films are “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” 2019’s live-action remake of “The Lion King,” “Avengers” and “Frozen II.”