“I can’t understand the plot because part 36 was removed for copyright,” lamented one viewer.
Photo by Connor Betterly
James Cameron announced plans to re-release his latest film, Avatar: The Way of Water as 192 one-minute segments through YouTube Shorts on Wednesday after an “unsatisfactory” box-office debut of only $134 million. Though production on the fourth film has already started, the series has seven total planned films; without demonstrating the profitability of the franchise, Cameron’s dream of “solving climate change with big blue cat people” may be in jeopardy. Each of the seven films comes with a titanic price tag of $500 million, and according to Cameron, he secured the funding by including a controversial “terminator” clause in his contract with 20th Century Studios, which grants the studio the legal right to literally kill him if an Avatar film makes less than $2 billion. When asked whether or not he felt he could reach the $2 billion mark seven times, Cameron seemed confident. “Look, Iron Man 3 made $1.2 billion, and let’s be honest, I could direct a movie that’s twice as good seven times while blindfolded and being attacked by piranhas. Come on. The Mandarin? The fucking Mandarin?”
This will be the second time that an Avatar movie has been re-released, after the first Avatar movie reprised its run in Chinese cinemas and retook its top-earning status back from Avengers: Endgame. “After that time travel nonsense I couldn’t let an Avengers film have the top spot, so I sent cinemas back in time to 2009, when Avatar was top cat.”
While the original re-release of the first Avatar movie looked to target the largest audience in the world, Cameron’s new short-form video strategy is designed to target the demographic that Avatar: The Way of Water’s test screenings performed the worst with: Gen Z. “Our turnout with this group was, frankly, dismal,” Cameron lamented, citing multiple failed marketing strategies, including a TikTok campaign promoting the “Avatar challenge” where participants go to theaters and watch the movie Avatar: The Way of Water. The movie was repeatedly described by Gen Z-ers as “one of the most movies ever” and “quite moist,” falling short of Cameron’s promises that Way of Water would be “one of the most profitable movies ever” and “wildly wet.”
“Kids these days do everything the internet tells them, but won’t go watch the movie no matter how much we pay Google to tell them to.” Cameron went on to explain that each one minute segment of the re-release would have most of the dialogue re-recorded using a default text-to-speech voice. “I’ve seen the TikToks. For some reason, this voice speaks to them,” he said.
Assuming the re-release is successful, Cameron has already expressed interest in filming future Avatar movies with the express intention of cutting them into clips. “Look, I thought that 3D was the future of movies, and I admit I definitely missed the mark on that one. But this short-form video stuff might actually be the future of movies. A psychologist on YouTube Shorts said so.”