Avatar: The Way of Water is swimming onto Disney Plus and Max in June

Jake stands over Kiri as she aims an arrow at a fish off-camera in Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Way of Water glides onto Disney Plus very soon.[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ (Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar: The Way of Water is ready to make its 'proper' streaming debut – but it won't be a Disney Plus exclusive.

The box office juggernaut, which is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, is set to arrive on Disney Plus and Max on Wednesday, June 7. Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) confirmed Avatar 2 would arrive on their respective platforms in separate press releases on May 15.

It's about time Avatar: The Way of Water made its way onto a big streaming service – or, in this case, two. James Cameron's latest money-spinning sci-fi flick launched in theaters in December 2022, so it's been a lengthy wait for its official streaming debut. 

We say official, too, because Avatar 2 has technically been available to stream at home since March 28. However, it's only been available to rent or buy on select services, such as Apple TV and the Amazon store, meaning Disney Plus subscribers have had to bide their time for The Way of Water to swim its way onto the service.

Given Avatar 2's colossal performance at the box office, it isn't a huge surprise that its streaming debut has been delayed. Cameron's latest big-budget movie earned itself a not-too-shabby $2.32 billion globally; a figure that cemented its place as the biggest money-making film of 2022, and the highest-grossing movie of the so-called pandemic era.

We weren't shocked by Avatar 2's titanic performance, though, especially as we rated it as one of the best movies of 2022. In our Avatar: The Way of Water review, we called it a "phenomenal feat of filmmaking", and said Cameron "delivered on the promise of truly jaw-dropping visual effects, he also gives a beating heart to a story that, somehow, manages to make us care deeply for a family of blue aliens... we haven't encountered for a decade."

If you somehow missed Avatar 2 in theaters – or were simply waiting for it to be available on one of the best streaming services around – then, the wait is nearly over. And, thanks to a deal between WBD and Disney, viewers in some world regions will have a choice of where they can stream it.

Setting sail for two separate streamers

Jake kneels down as he speaks to Kiri against a fiery backdrop in Avatar: The Way of Water

"Let me explain how Avatar 2 is coming to two different streaming services..." (Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar 2 might be a Disney-owned movie – the entertainment behemoth owns 20th Century Studios, which produced the film – but it won't be a Disney Plus exclusive. 

As I mentioned earlier, it's also coming to Max, WBD's new super-streamer. The platform, which launches on May 23, is essentially HBO Max's replacement, and will combine the content libraries of HBO Max and Discovery Plus (the latter will still be offered as a standalone service, however). You can find out more about Max's forthcoming launch in our article 7 things HBO Max fans need to know about the new Max streaming service.

So, why is Avatar: The Way of Water going to be available on Max as well as Disney Plus? Isn't it in Disney's best interests to make it exclusive on its biggest streaming platform?

It all boils down to a deal – one predating Warner Bros. and Discovery's merger in March 2022 – that Disney and Warner Bros. signed in November 2021. Basically, the agreement allows select 20th Century Studios movies to be shared between Disney Plus and Hulu, which Disney owns, and HBO Max. That enabled some 20th Century-developed films, such as The Banshees of Inisherin and Amsterdam, to be viewable on HBO Max for a certain amount of time.

With Avatar 2 releasing simultaneously on Max and Disney Plus, the agreement between Disney Media and WBD seems set to continue for the foreseeable future. So, if you're not signed up to Disney Plus but you own an HBO Max subscription – one that will carry over to Max very soon – you'll still be able to watch one of the best movies of 2022 from the comfort of your own home. Just make sure you're stacked up on snacks and plan your bathroom breaks, because The Way of Water's three hour-plus runtime demands it.

For more Avatar 2-based coverage, read our exclusive on  the truth behind that viral Avatar: The Way of Water hand shot. Additionally, find out how Avatar 2 animators tricked James Cameron into believing some shots were practical, or learn where we rank The Way of Water in our best James Cameron movies guide.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.