Avatar: The Way of Water is entering the marketplace with very high expectations: From fans of the first movie who expect it to deliver just as much spectacle and excitement as the first movie, and from the executives at Disney and 20th Century Studios, who need the film to perform well in order to justify the hundreds of millions of dollars they have invested in James Cameron and what could potentially be three more Avatar sequels in the years ahead.

But movie theaters have high expectations for the film as well. They’re banking a lot of their hopes for the holiday movie season on The Way of Water, which is one of the few tentpoles that is actually opening around Christmas this year. If Avatar flops, that’s going to make it an extremely un-merry Christmas for a lot of theater chains and their employees.

For a glimpse into just how big theaters expect (or at least hope) demand for Avatar will be, check out what is going on at the AMC Empire in Times Square in New York City. Screenings for the film are already underway; the first began on Thursday at 3PM ET. But then they really kick into high gear on Friday December 16. Between midnight Thursday and midnight Friday, the AMC Empire has 50 showings of The Way of Water. 

After several late night showings at and after midnight on Thursday, their Friday showtimes include...

  • 4 IMAX with Laser 3D screenings
  • 1 Dolby Cinema screening
  • 3 Dolby Cinema 3D screenings
  • 30 RealD 3D screenings
  • 1 RealD 3D (Spanish Spoken With No Subtitles) screening
  • 1 RealD 3D (English Spoken with Mandarin Subtitles) screening
  • 1 RealD 3D (English Spoken with Spanish Subtitles) screening
  • 1 RealD 3D (Open Caption) screening
  • 4 Laser at AMC screenings

This image shows you a little more than half of all the Way of Water showtimes tomorrow at just this one theater in Manhattan:


This is not the first time the Times Square AMC has jammed dozens and dozens of screenings of a blockbuster into a single day; a few months ago they had 70 screenings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on its opening day. But Doctor Strange was two hours long; Avatar: The Way of Water runs 192 minutes. In the time it takes to show The Way of Water twice, you could show Doctor Strange three times — and potentially sell a whole extra auditorium’s worth of tickets.

Only a theater as big as the Empire (which has 25 screens) could show The Way of Water this often and still play a handful of other movies as well. (Tomorrow at the theater you could also watch Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverViolent NightStrange WorldSpoiler AlertDevotionBlack AdamThe FabelmansEmpire of LightBones and AllThe MenuThe Night Owl, and The Sparring Partner — which is honestly an impressive number of choices given the fact that they are also showing Avatar 50 times.)

Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now. It may not be playing quite this often at your local multiplex, but odds are it’s playing at a theater somewhere near wherever you’re reading these words right now.

What to Know Before Avatar: The Way of Water

Get ready for Avatar: The Way of Water with this refresher on the first film.

More From MIX 108