Thus begins the final rush of pre-release marketing and promotion for “Avatar: The Way of Water.“
Along with the announcement of the international premiere dates, tickets for all major theatre chains in North America went on sale (December 6 in London, December 9 in Seoul, December 10 in Tokyo, and December 12 in Los Angeles). Also, as promised, Walt Disney released the third and final trailer for the 3-D epic.
This trailer makes a lot of beautiful, Pandora-specific aesthetic promises while also hinting that it won’t merely be a visual or narrative repeat of the 2009 smash hit. The second trailer, published a few weeks ago to coincide with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debut cinematic debut, may have sealed the deal for those who were at least considering planning a repeat journey to Pandora. The intended audience for this teaser is regular moviegoers, or more particularly, irregular moviegoers who might not be aware of or need reminding that there is a new “Avatar” sequel coming to theatres.
This final “Way of Water” trailer debut is targeted advertising for people who don’t frequently go to the movies and aren’t likely to check out the most recent teaser trailer online, more so than even the final trailers for each respective “Star Wars” sequel, which each debuted during a primetime sporting event in October of 2015, 2017, and 2019, respectively.
After all, in 2015, viewers who missed the debut of the football game trailer might have seen the “The Force Awakens” trailer playing before major motion pictures like “Spectre” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II.” That second, Rey/Kylo-focused trailer for “The Last Jedi” may have been seen by moviegoers in November 2017 who went to watch “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Justice League,” “Wonder,” or “Coco” in a theatre. Similar circumstances occurred in late 2019 when, in November of that year, fans saw the last “Rise of Skywalker” trailer before viewing “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Knives Out,” and “Frozen II.”
But it’s even more crucial that the casually interested get the memo in 2022 when little is anticipated to happen between “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” two weeks ago and “Avatar: The Way of Water” on December 16. So it’s not like people are rushing to watch “She Said” or (relatively speaking) “Strange World” or “The Menu” if they haven’t seen or won’t be seeing “Wakanda Forever” in a theatre.
After all, in the case of big-budget blockbusters, the distinction between a hit and a miss typically comes down to persuading general audiences—rather than die-hard fans—to attend screenings. The public that is aware of and interested in the directors of specific Marvel films, as well as those who did or did not end up helming films like “Solo: A Star Wars Story” or “Justice League,” is not the audience that determines a film’s success or failure.
There is no need to sell tickets to those who purchased them already today. This trailer is intended for moviegoers who may not have been to a cinema since “Top Gun: Maverick,” warning them that another “Avatar” is about to begin. It’s a marketing ploy meant to remind anyone who saw the first Sam Worthington/Zoe Salda action fantasy somewhere in the previous 13 years and who liked it well enough to have at least hazy pleasant memories of the experience that a follow-up is planned for a few weeks.
As Disney and 20th Century Studios make a final push to promote the sequel to what is still the highest-grossing movie of all time ($2.9 billion including reissues), viewers of linear, commercial television should expect to be inundated with television adverts, let alone online advertisements. These advertisements are intended for people who haven’t seen anything about an “Avatar” sequel since, at most, the teaser that debuted in theatres this past May. The same is true of this trailer.
The followers are already persuaded. Our goal will be to energize the rest of the planet during the following three weeks.