I thought this was supposed to be the only thing in theaters for a week. Disney lost their nerve since it popped up online early this morning. Chris Nolan's Dark Knight sequels were released in legit versions on Sunday and Monday.
This is an announcement tease, offering the mere idea of a return trip to the movie, without any explicit plot details or character reveals. Had it been shown during a football game, it would have been like the earliest tease for The Dark Knight Rises, Aladdin or Tenet. It did its job, as the last trailer following the expected previews for Top Gun: Maverick, Minions and Lightyear, it did its job.
I saw the Doctor Strange 2 trailer at Cinemacon before my Petite Maman show and then in my local AMC theater, which was closing out their pre-Doctor Strange 2 trailer reel. It looked gorgeous in 2-D and without a higher frame-rate presentation, and it was an ideal circumstance to see it in a Dolby theater. The second time, there was a treat. I was sitting next to a few adults who had no idea the movie was about to start, and their reaction was a delight to watch.
They were shocked and happy that we were going back to Pandora 13 years later. The trailer was attached to showings of one of the biggest movies of the year, the surprise factor. If you don't pay attention to this stuff, you might not have known what was coming. Chris Nolan said that his best movie was the look on their faces, as well as a reminder that general audiences liked and still like James Cameron's blockbuster.
I don't expect the sequel to replicate the first film's $760 million domestic/$2.847 billion global gross, but I do expect it to be the biggest global earner of 2022. A 50% drop would give this flick over $1 billion. It's not a modern sci-fi/fantasy classic and China doesn't treat it like one. In 2010, the film earned $205 million in 10% of the theaters, and in 2021, it earned $55 million in the same theaters.
It's important that the next movie in the series, called The Way of Water, is good enough to get people excited about the possibility of three more. If not, I can't say the same for the other three movies in the series. The only reason I'm not more cynical about this planned five-part franchise is because James Cameron has more than earned our benefit.
The Way of Water will be released on December 16, 2021. My kids will be able to resist the urge to watch it again, since it will be re-released in theaters on September 23. It will become the first $3 billion-grosser in history if it can earn an additional $153 million worldwide. We will see, but I believe in James Cameron.