Avatar, released in 2009, is still the highest-grossing film of all time, grossing $2.8 billion at the global box office. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame briefly surpassed Avatar and is now the second highest-grossing film of all time with $2.7 billion.
Watch your favorite anime for free with Funimation's 14-day free trial
However, a theatrical re-release in China allowed Avatar to reclaim the top spot at the global box office. Naturally, the film’s enormous success prompted Cameron to turn Avatar into a franchise. And he eventually announced four sequels to be released between now and 2028. Avatar: The Way of Water is set to premiere later this year on December 16.
This comes after numerous delays due to the development of new underwater performance capture technology and the COVID-19 pandemic. And to help fans prepare for the long-awaited sequel, Disney announced that the first Avatar would be re-released in theatres this September with remastered audio and picture.
Disney+ removes Avatar from its library
Now, Avatar has been quietly removed from Disney+ worldwide ahead of its latest theatrical re-release next month. This move was first officially reported by What’s On Disney Plus. No official reason was given by Disney or 20th Century Studios for the sudden removal of Avatar, though the timing is certainly suspicious.
Due to pre-existing agreements with other streaming services, Disney+ regularly removes 20th Century Studios titles from its streaming library in the United States. However, this does not appear to be the case here since the film was dropped globally.
Given the film’s upcoming theatrical re-release, the decision was almost certainly made to entice more people to the theatres this September and boost Avatar’s global box office totals once more.
It’s not difficult to deduce Disney’s underlying motivation for making the business decision. But it’s a little consolation for those who were planning to watch Avatar on the streaming service in the coming months. It will be interesting to see if this decision results in strong numbers for the re-release.