'Avatar' will return to cinemas before sequel 'Avatar: The Way of Water'

Jake Sully as a Na'vi in "Avatar."
The original "Avatar" blockbuster heads back to multiplexes this fall to prime fans for the Avatar sequel. (Image credit: Disney)

Nearly 13 years after audiences were awed by the immersive opulence of director James Cameron's "Avatar" and its exotic planet Pandora, "Avatar: The Way of Water" is slated to arrive in cinemas on Dec. 16.

This mega-budget sci-fi sequel has been a long time coming, mostly to allow for CGI technology to advance enough to depict underwater environments realistically. Faithful fans eagerly welcomed the first trailer of "Avatar: The Way of Water" that was released with screenings of Marvel Studios' "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

To prepare theatergoers for the $250 million follow-up and introduce a new generation to Jake Sully, Neytiri and the Indigenous Na'vi's struggle to protect their remote world from greedy corporate miners, Disney will re-release the original "Avatar" on Sept. 23, complete with updated sound and special effects. For more info on the upcoming sci-fi epic, check out our everything we know about Avatar 2 article.

Related: The spaceships and vehicles of Avatar

The original "Avatar" was released on Dec. 18, 2009, by 20th Century Fox and became a global 3D sensation that pulled in $2.8 billion worldwide and became the highest-grossing Hollywood film of all time. Cameron has been in New Zealand over the past few years, laser-focused on crafting a total of four sequels to the seminal sensation, which will be released every two years through 2028.

Disney dropped the nostalgic news of "Avatar's" re-release during the annual CinemaCon event in late April. This special refreshed edition, designed to remind fans young and old of the pioneering film's dream-like environment and dynamic main characters, will feature newly remastered audio and picture quality to bring it up to today's exacting digital standards. 

Because Disney purchased 20th Century Fox back in 2019 for $71 billion, "Avatar" will also exchange the old Fox logo with the House of Mouse's official brand. The film will likely be offered in both 2D and 3D formats, though exact plans have not yet been finalized.

The film poster for "Avatar." (Image credit: Disney)

"Avatar: The Way of Water" wrapped up filming in September 2020. Set a decade after the first film, the long-anticipated sequel follows Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their kids in a tale that occurs in Pandora's watery reef region of Metkayina.

Disney will re-release "Avatar" starting Sept. 23. Its direct sequel, "Avatar: The Way of Water," swims into theaters on Dec. 16. For more space movies, see our full list of upcoming sci-fi movies.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.