One of the most delayed sequels in blockbuster history finally hit the big screen on Tuesday as Avatar: The Way of Water got its much-anticipated world premiere in London.
The 13-year wait for a follow-up to Avatar, the biggest-grossing film of all time, cannot come too soon for cinemas around the world still struggling from the impact of the COVID pandemic.
The public will get to see James Cameron’s three-hour opus next week, with the director hoping it will justify his dream of establishing a franchise on a par with Star Wars and the Marvel juggernaut.
The legendary filmmaker admitted to having some nerves ahead of the premiere.
“I’ve always been nervous every time before we put a movie out into the marketplace and this is a particularly fraught time because, after the pandemic, the market has contracted somewhat,” he told the BBC from the red carpet.
But Cameron added he was confident that the sequel to his 2009 blockbuster delivers.
“The film is a good ride. It’s a good experience. It’s powerful. It’s emotional. People are crying, they’re weeping their eyes out coming out of the theatre in a good way.”
Having been re-released around the world in recent months, the first Avatar is now just shy of $3 billion in worldwide revenue. But Cameron’s initial hopes of having a sequel out by 2014 saw repeated delays as his technical ambitions grew.
The second film continues the mix of sci-fi and eco-politics – returning to the planet Pandora where the Na’vi characters struggle to fend off rapacious humans – as well as the groundbreaking use of 3D and cutting-edge cinematic wizardry that made the original such a box office hit.
Stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver return, alongside new additions including Kate Winslet, a quarter-century after her world-beating collaboration with Cameron for Titanic.