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Disney and the 20th Century Avatar: The way of water It opened to $57.1 million in China over the weekend, an opening that would have been considered a heroic return for Hollywood in the increasingly troubled Chinese market had the film been directed by anyone other than James Cameron.

Presale rates and other online measures of audience interest have been suggested Avatar 2: will open in China with more than $100 million. But the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing and other major cities appears to have dampened consumer activity and overwhelmed all precedent. Analysts now believe that the film’s performance will be characterized not by a tsunami but by a long stream of revenue.

“China’s theater industry continues to operate under the influence of COVID, with a significant impact on initial estimates,” said Rance Pao, CEO of regional box office consultancy Artisan Gateway. “This includes what may be a reluctance of people to force their way back into public spaces, including cinemas, ironically as COVID policies become more tailored to local conditions. If so, Avatar 2:the long runtime can work against it. Still, the film is doing great on social media, James Cameron has a huge fan base in China, and his films have a solid track record.”

Leading Chinese app Maoyan was projecting on Friday Avatar 2: would earn $360 million (Rs. 2.51 billion). Forecasters had good reason to be bullish. The way of water surpassed the Chinese blockbuster’s pre-sales total The Battle of Changjin Lake 2, which earned more than $100 million on its first day in February and eventually topped $626 million. But until Sunday Maoyan’s full forecast Avatar 2: had shrunk to $143 million (RMB 1 billion), reflecting how unreliable conventional indicators have become amid uncertainty in public health conditions.

Nevertheless, The way of water has been well received by Chinese viewers who have seen it so far. The film has high social ratings of 9.3 on Maoyan, 9.2 on Alibaba’s ticketing app Tao Piao Piao, and 8.2 on movie site Douban.

As in many markets, The way of water Doing particularly well in Imax in China. The film opened to $15.8 million on 735 Chinese Imax screens, accounting for 27 percent of the film’s weekend total, the best Imax index ever domestically (overall, it was the fourth-biggest Imax opening in China).

The way of waterIts fate in China now boils down to how consumer behavior evolves in the coming weeks as local society copes with its first experience of widespread COVID infection as a daily fact of life. The country is seeing its first nationwide increase in cases since testing requirements and most pandemic restrictions were lifted earlier this month.

With a new lack of regular mass testing, the extent of China’s outbreak has become a matter of guesswork, but anecdotal evidence — long hospital waits, businesses hampered by staff shortages and unofficial tallies of COVID deaths — suggest a big spike has begun. And while most of the world has gotten used to life with COVID, Chinese society is feeling a form of whiplash. For more than two years, Beijing’s propaganda messages portrayed the virus and its variants as extremely deadly as the government worked to shore up its draconian zero-covid-19 policy and the many casualties it caused. Now that the restrictions have been suddenly lifted, official reports have changed course dramatically, with state media describing the latest versions of the virus as far more harmless. Alarmed by the speed of the official position change, much of the Chinese public seems to be responding by simply diving into self-imposed semi-isolation until things become clearer.

Avatar 2: time is on its side — somewhat. Assuming it gets an official release extension after its first four weeks of release, the film will have a largely unfettered run in Chinese theaters until the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on Jan. 22, when the sci-fi hit sequel takes place. Wandering country debuts.


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