In December, director James Cameron proved that audiences were ready to revisit the world of Avatar on the big screen with Avatar: The Way of Water. It was not only a massive blockbuster with $2.32 billion worldwide (which makes it the third-highest-grossing film of all time), but it also bucked the trend of a quick digital release. But now the wait is almost over. Disney+ has announced that The Way of Water will make its streaming debut on June 7.
However, the subscribers to the streaming service soon-to-be formerly known as HBO Max will also be able to stream The Way of Water on June 7.
How and why are Disney and Warner Bros. sharing the streaming rights for the biggest hit of 2022? The answer is simple if you remember that 20th Century Studios was formerly 20th Century Fox before the company’s entertainment assets were purchased by Disney in 2019. Fox signed a streaming deal with HBO prior to that agreement, and the contract must be honored by the company’s current owner.
As noted by Variety, Disney and Warner Bros. amended the agreement in late 2021 to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. Warner Bros. got an extra year of 20th Century Studios titles. while Disney no longer had to wait for that deal to expire to add those movies to Disney+ and Hulu. The catch was that neither streaming service has exclusive rights. But this shared custody agreement only went through the end of 2022’s films. This means that The Way of Water will likely be the last movie to make its streaming debut on both services.
20th Century Studios has set the third Avatar film to be released in theaters on December 20, 2024. If the next sequel follows the same release schedule, Avatar 3 probably won’t stream on Disney+ until June 2025.