Since 2019, Disney has followed a basic order of operations: if a film is released in theaters, it will eventually be streamed on Disney+.
However, there has been a lot of variance in individual projects' journeys making their way to Disney+. This is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the studio to put more films directly on the streamer and set a new precedent for theatrical release windows.
Just before heading into a loaded 2023 slate of films, the highly anticipated Avatar: The Way of Water will look to ride the box office like a banshee in December and January.
With a continually moving target, Avatar 2's immediate performance worldwide may affect when it eventually available to stream on Disney+
When Will Avatar 2 Be Streaming Online?
Before 2020, typically films released in theaters would follow a 90-day window before being available to purchase on VOD or Blu-Ray/DVD.
In the case of Disney since 2020, the company has released some films day-and-date in theaters and streaming (Black Widow and Raya and the Last Dragon both were given "Premier Access" (additional cost) options on Disney+).
In recent memory, audiences have seen theatrical windows shrink for some of 2022's biggest films. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was available to stream on Disney+ 47 days after its theatrical release. Widening the release slightly a few months later, Thor Love and Thunder was available to stream 62 days after its theatrical release.
Director James Cameron has the track record to show that this film will likely be a historically successful sequel. The global box office performance is critical for understanding when Avatar 2 will begin streaming on Disney+.
Avatar: The Way of Water's Best Chances for Disney+ Release
Assuming The Way of Water puts on a top-notch box office performance, there will be no rush to make it available streaming.
During its opening weekend, Avatar 2 grossed $134 million domestically and an additional $307.6 million internationally. The $441.6 million global opening is the second-highest of 2022 (May’s Multiverse of Madness opened to $449.4 million worldwide).
These numbers were generally under projections by industry experts, however, nearly reaching half of a billion in three days is nothing to be disappointed about. A 90-day theatrical window would equate to Thursday, March 17, 2023.
However, a month earlier, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (another massive Disney production) releases on February 17. This could lead the company to put Avatar 2 out on streaming around the same time if its box office has fizzled out after roughly 60 days in theaters.
It would be fascinating to see how Disney handles this one, especially considering the Avatar franchise is most famously known for its box office longevity and being made for the theater.
It’s a safe bet to assume James Cameron isn’t in any rush for his first film in 13 years to begin streaming.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently playing in theaters worldwide.