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James Cameron Has Solid Rationale For Avatar: The Way Of Water's Three-Hour Runtime

The first sequel for "Avatar," which is officially titled "Avatar: The Way of Water," has been a long time coming. "Avatar" was released all the way back in 2009 and quickly took the box office by storm, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide (via The Numbers). The film has also proved to still be very popular with audiences, as a re-release in September 2022 saw the movie pull in $30 million worldwide during its opening (per Variety). So the hype surrounding "Avatar: The Way of Water" is certainly high, and there's a lot of expectation surrounding its financial performance.

In keeping with his tradition of crafting longer films, however, it was recently revealed that the sequel to "Avatar" would be clocking in at around three hours and ten minutes in length (per The Hollywood Reporter). That's a pretty lengthy amount of time, but given the first film's success, there's arguably a lot of goodwill and leeway extended to the movie by general audiences. If that's not enough, director James Cameron has expanded on why the film is so long, and his reasoning actually makes a lot of sense.

Avatar: The Way of Water's three-hour runtime allows for more character moments

During a recent interview with GamesRadar's Total Film, James Cameron dove right into justifying the three-hour-plus runtime for "Avatar: The Way of Water," and his reasoning behind it is fairly intriguing and solidly argued. "The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis," Cameron stated. "I would say the emphasis in the new film is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn't spend as much time on relationship and emotion in the first film as we do in the second film, and it's a longer film, because there's more characters to service. There's more story to service."

While these are excellent reasons to explain the film's long running time, it could still be argued that it will be a tough sell for audiences. However, that's never really been the case before when it comes to movies by Cameron. The director's 1997 epic "Titanic" also crossed the three-hour mark, and it made well over $2.2 billion at the worldwide box office (per Box Office Mojo). "Avatar" itself was around two hours and forty minutes in length, and MCU fans know all about lengthy movies, with "Avengers: Endgame" clocking in at just over three hours and still grossing well over $2.7 billion (per The Numbers).

Basically, longer movies are not always an impossible sell, and for Cameron, audiences tend to turn out in droves regardless. Whether that actually turns out to be the cast for "Avatar: The Way of Water" remains to be seen, but all signs seem to point to another big success for the filmmaker.