UMass Lowell Connector Logo

“Avatar” flies back into theaters ahead of hotly-anticipated sequel

(Photo courtesy of IMDB) James Cameron’s 2009 spectacle is out again in theaters everywhere.

Sohini Nath
Connector Staff

2009’s hit blockbuster “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron, is finally getting a sequel after almost fifteen years, called “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The release date was originally set for December 2021, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back to September 23, 2022, and later further delayed to December 16 of the same year. The original 2009 film is, to this day, the highest grossing film of all time, raking in a total of 2.878 billion dollars. To hype people up for the release of the hotly anticipated sequel, Avatar was remastered by the director and rereleased in theaters on September 18. 

The original film was about a disabled marine named Jake Sully, who becomes a test subject for the military wing of the RDA (a government department whose function is to find resources for Earth). He is told to become an “avatar” through technology and infiltrate the Na’vi, a tall and tribal race of beings with blue skin, on the planet of Pandora. 

The rerelease has sparked a lot of discussion of the phenomenon of films that are commercially popular at the time of release, but do not have any long-term impact on the genres they are part of. Many people expressed apathy towards the sequel and rerelease of the original, as well as the planned Avatar 3 and 4. However, the rerelease continues to do well at the box office, so some believe the sequel will prove the franchise’s potential with great financial success.  

Director James Cameron has high hopes for the rerelease with his enthusiasm for the project clear as day to even its most vocal critics. Having planned two more sequels, he thanked fans on Twitter for having seen the movie again and has done many interviews where he discusses his thrill and excitement for the future.  In an interview he did with the New York Times, he said that watching the original film again on the big screen was a “real pleasure,” and expressed his hopes that moviegoers everywhere will have a similar experience. “Young film fans never had the opportunity to see it in a movie theater. Even though they think they may have seen the film, they really haven’t seen it,” he said in an excerpt from the Times article. 

Even though a lot of people online expressed their distaste for the film as it was rereleased, some critics and audience members are genuinely excited for it and the sequel. They truly loved the movie the first time, and as Bilge Ebiri of Vulture wrote about the audience reaction to Avatar, “The word went forth, and the word remains: Never underestimate James Cameron. One can sense a similar sea change coming for Cameron’s much-delayed sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water.” The numbers back this up, as the rerelease has grossed over 30.5 million so far. Many critics have also begun changing their minds about the original film, or proclaiming they secretly liked the movie from the start.  

Many jokes have been made in recent years on social media about the lack of lasting impact the original had, with many people not even remembering the main character’s name or any of the plot. However, others disagree with this consensus, a sentiment Dani Di Placido conveys in an article for Forbes. He makes a great point about the debate of the film itself, when he states “But I think it’s a mistake to assume that Avatar left no cultural footprint. The fact that this argument is so consistently brought up, and passionately debated, undermines its own thesis; if the film truly left no cultural impact, no one would care to argue about it.” Perhaps there is truth to his words. 

 Avatar: The Way of Water is out in theaters on December 16. If you want to re-experience the first film beforehand, the rerelease is playing in cinemas now. 

Related posts