Avatar: The Way of Water is already making box office waves (ha). The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster, The Way of Water is playing in everything from from 3D IMAX to regular 2D and has become a theatrical attraction, having at the time of writing made close to $500 million globally. But if you’re waiting to watch this incredibly long movie from the comfort of your own couch (where you can press pause when you need to use the bathroom), how long will you have to wait?
Disney hasn’t yet announced when Avatar: The Way of Water will be available to stream. For Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, since Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the company has adopted a minimum 45-day window between the theatrical debut and streaming release. If Avatar: The Way of Water follows that pipeline, the earliest it can arrive on the platform is Jan. 30. However, depending on how successful the movie is, Disney tends to extend that pipeline — Thor: Love and Thunder hit streaming 62 days after its premiere, for instance, and we still don’t have a streaming date for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Not all Disney-produced movies are beholden to that 45-day rule (see Strange World, which is hitting Disney Plus on Dec. 23) but that fate is usually reserved for films that aren’t performing well at box office. Judging by Avatar: The Way of Water’s smashing success, that doesn’t seem to be the movie’s outcome. In fact, Disney will probably want to keep the movie in theaters for as long as possible. The original movie stayed in theaters for 234 days, after all. While it’s unlikely that Disney will wait that long to release the sequel on Disney Plus, The Way of Water might not hit streaming until well into 2023.
There is also the possibility that the movie ends up available to rent or download, with a streaming option not being available until later. Such was the case with Top Gun: Maverick, which won’t hit Paramount Plus till seven months after its debut (Dec. 22), despite being available to rent in August. If that’s the case, Avatar: The Way of Water could be available to rent or purchase around March 2023 (that’s the 90-day window), but not hit Disney Plus till further into the year.
There is also another hiccup: Disney is beholden to a lingering contract between 20th Century Studios and HBO. The contract expires in 2022, but it’s unclear if Avatar: The Way of Water falls underneath it. If so, the movie might have a brief stint on HBO Max first before moving onto Disney Plus. Disney has not said anything about the matter.
In the meantime, there are plenty of options to view the movie in theaters — including the 4DX release. Check out our review and then geek out over the space whales.