How to watch Avatar: The Way of Water online — digital release date revealed

(L to R) Kate Winslet as Ronal and Cliff Curtis as Tonowari in Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: Disney)

It's almost time to watch Avatar: The Way of Water online at home. Of course, this isn't a huge surprise that it took so long, as the biggest movies of the last years have taken longer stretches of time — as the movie theater system keeps them playing to stay afloat.

Unlike many other Oscar nominated films (The Banshees of Inisherin is on HBO Max, Top Gun: Maverick hit Paramount Plus and Tár is on Peacock), Avatar: The Way of Water was not online before the trophies were handed out.

Instead, the film hits homes tomorrow (Tuesday, March 28th), when it's sold by all the major digital movie retailers. This looks like a strategy to maximize its sales (again), seeing how much money it can earn before it heads to its inevitable home of Disney Plus. More on that below.

As a reminder for how successful it's been, Avatar: The Way of Water is the third-highest grossing of all time with $2,306,159,618, according to Box Office Mojo. It sits behind Avengers: Endgame (No. 2 with $2,799,439,100) and the original Avatar ($2,923,706,026 is still the king).

As noted above, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish debuts on Peacock (one of the best streaming services) starting Friday (March 10). 

How to watch Avatar: The Way of Water online

Starting tomorrow (March 28), Avatar: The Way of Water will be available for digital purchase on Amazon, Apple and Vudu.

It costs $19.99 to own.

When will Avatar: The Way of Water hit Disney Plus?

Right now, though, all of our thoughts are focused on Avatar 2's Disney Plus date. To try and figure out a possible date, we look at the closest similar blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick.

Tom Cruise's sequel may not have racked up as many bucks as The Way of Water, but it did hit second place with a worldwide gross of $1,493,491,858. 

Which made it not exactly a shock when it took Top Gun: Maverick about 7 months to hit Paramount Plus.

Based on that, and Avatar 2's December 2022 release, our best guess is that Avatar: The Way of Water could be online by July 14, 2023 — but probably not any earlier.

Avatar: The Way of Water digital special features

Digital copies of the film will have the following special features, starting with these Inside Pandora’s Box featurettes:

  • Building the World of Pandora – James Cameron and a team of talented artists combine years of research with their design skills to build the world of Pandora with new characters, creatures, indigenous clans, underwater environments and the take-no-prisoners hard-tech world of the RDA.
  • Capturing Pandora – James Cameron’s approach to performance capture has the cast performing in a volume rigged with infrared cameras to capture their movement, and head rig cameras to capture emotion on their faces with only the boundaries of imagination to limit them.
  • The Undersea World of Pandora – Co-production designer Dylan Cole and his team conceive of the marine creatures required for Avatar: The Way of Water while James Cameron and his stunt team devise extraordinary means to bring those creatures to life in a performance capture tank.
  • The Challenges of Pandora’s Waters – James Cameron tackles the “non-trivial challenge” of performance capture above and below the water’s surface, utilizing a wave machine and current generator to reproduce ocean conditions, and underwater vehicles to replicate creature movement.
  • Pandora’s Returning Characters – James Cameron reunites with his returning cast – Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. Together they discuss the amazing evolution of their characters in Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Pandora’s Next Generation – Meet the talented young newcomers who have been cast as the next generation of Na’vi and follow them through the adventure of making Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Spider’s Web – James Cameron introduced the human character of Spider into the fabric of Pandora – thus creating a host of technological challenges on set…and an incredible journey for the young actor, Jack Champion.
  • Becoming Na’vi – The Avatar cast is immersed in the culture of the indigenous Na’vi, living off the land in the Hawaiian rainforest and training in a multitude of disciplines in preparation for their roles.
  • The Reef People of Pandora – In true James Cameron-style, the Metkayina reef clan has been developed with great attention to detail, bearing unique evolutionary traits and a culture – with new dwellings, new clothes and different way of life – all a result of living off the ocean. 
  • Bringing Pandora to Life – Once James Cameron completes his virtual production process, every sequence is turned over to Wētā FX to bring Pandora to life – with unprecedented advancements in facial performance, environments and making CG water look real.
  • The RDA Returns to Pandora – Co-production designer Ben Procter and his team present an armada of new vehicles and human technologies that the RDA brings to Pandora – in concept design and with practical builds.
  • The New Characters of Pandora – Meet the important new characters of the Avatar saga played by Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell and Jemaine Clement.
  • The Sounds of Pandora – Hear how James Cameron worked with composer Simon Franglen to create the distinctive music of The Way of Water while building on James Horner’s brilliant score for Avatar, and learn how Chris Boyes created the immersive sounds of Pandora.
  • New Zealand – Pandora’s Home – The production of the Avatar sequels is so thoroughly ensconced in New Zealand that James Cameron considers The Way of Water a “New Zealand film.” Hear reflections from the cast and crew, including the remarkable New Zealand crew, on making the film.

Also included are these "More from Pandora's Box" featurettes:

  • Casting – Discover the screen tests that won the talented young cast their roles in Avatar: The Way of Water.
  • Stunts – The Avatar stunt team isn’t just creating breathtaking action, they’re driving the story. From racing underwater on ilus, flying the skies on ikrans, to maneuvering RDA speed boats, the stunt team leaves you breathless and wanting more.
  • The Lab – Explore the Lightstorm Lab, the backbone of virtual production for the Avatar films. Comprised of specialized teams, the Lab builds & supports every aspect of the production – environments, motion edit, Kabuki, sequence, post-viz and software development.
  • The Troupe – Avatar’s Troupe is the Swiss Army Knife of acting, while playing dozens of roles on set, in the performance capture volume and on live-action sets, they bring life to Na’vi clans and RDA Recoms. They also play Na’vi-scale puppets on the live-action sets.

And these marketing materials:

  • Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength) Music Video – Multi-Grammy-winning, music superstar, The Weeknd, performs his emotionally packed end title song in the official music video for the smash hit “Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength).”
  • Theatrical Trailers 1 & 2 – Avatar: The Way of Water used two theatrical trailers to engage the audience. The first was a teaser trailer released 7 months before the film. The second was a standard trailer that premiered 5 weeks before the film’s release. 
Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.