Avatar: The Way of Water has already broken records worldwide and has dominated the box office both domestically and internationally for weeks on end, both meeting and exceeding all the frankly astronomical expectations put upon it. However, the film did have the bad luck of being released during a huge wave of COVID-19 in China. This encumbrance, which struck the world’s second-biggest film market, certainly put a damper on the film’s success. However, it looks like the film will be getting an extended run on Chinese screens for 30 more days, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The decision was made on Tuesday by Beijing’s film regulators, which granted the Disney property an incredibly rare extension on its release. The renewal is a part of China’s film import system, which grants foreign films 30-day blocks for screenings. A renewal for an additional 30 days is an unusual move. The film’s release was set to expire on January 15, 2023, having earned a little under $200 million dollars in the country. Its run in China was the best of the pandemic era so far, however, it earned less than was originally expected, in part because of the ongoing COVID outbreak in the country.
The extension of the film’s run in the country will coincide with the Chinese New Year, which could see a renewed interest in the film. However, its screen share will be decreased, owing to several high-profile Chinese releases, such as The Wandering Earth 2. However, this is still undoubtedly good news for the film. This is an opportunity for the film to generate tens of millions of dollars in added ticket revenue. The film has done well with Chinese audiences, so an extended run in theaters will give the film an opportunity to add to its already strong international hold.
The Film Bureau’s decision to extend the film’s run, especially considering its overlap with the Chinese New Year holiday is remarkable, if not flat-out shocking. Foreign films are usually blocked from screening during the nation’s holidays. This allows domestic films to maintain a hold at the box office. This policy has caused tension with Hollywood, which has often railed against their release “black-outs”, claiming them as contrary to the country’s World Trade Organization obligations. However, these protests have gone without a nudge, until now.
Avatar: The Way of Water is playing in theaters now.