The much-anticipated opening of AVATAR defined the weekend: THE WAY OF WATER, as cinemas pinned their holiday hopes on the 2022 reboot of the AVATAR franchise.
Thankfully, early reviews from critics and audiences point to success, with critics rating it 80% “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and moviegoers showing even more enthusiasm with a 95% audience score. David Sims, the film critic for The Atlantic, praised the film’s ability to dazzle with its use of 3D, going well beyond what he thought possible with current technology. These reports of a “wow effect” were exactly what Disney had hoped for, drawing people to theatres to experience the 3h 12m Sci-Fi epic.
This weekend’s clear winner was IMAX, whose screens made up roughly 15% of AVATAR’s grosses, one of the largest shares ever for a major release. IMAX has established a reputation as providing the biggest of big-screen experiences, while Hollywood is increasingly focused on creating blockbusters with copious special effects.
In 2022, IMAX locations have all overperformed the industry average for blockbusters such as TOP GUN: MAVERICK, JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION, DR. STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER.
Moreover, the declining number of new movies is not as significant a problem for IMAX theatres as for traditional multiplexes since most IMAX locations have only one or two screens to fill.
See also: Avatar Sequel Helps Imax Bulls Make the Case That Cinema’s Not Dead (Bloomberg)