Avatar: The Way of Water ‘needs to be 3rd or 4th highest-grossing film of all time to break even’

Tom Davidson
2 min readNov 21, 2022
Avatar: The Way of Water hits cinemas next month

Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s long, long awaited sequel to Avatar needs to rake in a serious amount of cash at the box office just to break even, James Cameron has admitted.

In a ‘Men of the Year’ profile by GQ, Cameron has opened up about the ‘very fucking’ high budget for Avatar 2.

It was first hoped that his follow-up to Avatar would hit cinemas in 2014 but Cameron, a notorious perfectionist, essentially required entirely new technology in order to make his water-based sequel.

Filming finally got underway in 2017 and it’s going to hit cinemas worldwide next month with sky-high box office projections.

The original Avatar cleaned up — thanks in part to the 3D surcharge that it went on to popularise.

Cameron was already the box office daddy thanks to the titanic success of Titanic but Avatar, released in 2009, raked in $2.7bn and fundamentally changed the game and the barometer of what success was.

Thanks to a recent re-release Avatar is still top of the box office charts (not adjusted for inflation) with a total haul of $2.9bn.

The worldwide box office top 15 (not adjusted for inflation)

Avengers: Endgame made $2.8bn and Titanic $2.1bn (both have also been re-released in cinemas).

Speaking to GQ Cameron was coy about the final budget for Avatar: The Way of Water but did say the film represented “the worst business case in movie history.”

In order to be profitable, he said:

“You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”

Hopefully Cameron will not require any new technology for the, like, four further Avatar films he has planned (some of which have already been partly shot).

Back in 2017 Fox admitted that the Avatar sequels “will be the most expensive movies of all time”.

Will the audience show up in the numbers required? Well, count James Cameron out at your peril.

Note: Filming sequels simultaneously does tend to boost the overall ‘costs’ on the balance sheet (see also: Pirates of the Caribbean 2&3).

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Tom Davidson

31-year-old journalist living in south westLondon trying my hand at some film writing as and when