How expensive is “Avatar: The Way of Water”? Early reports claimed the production budget alone was in the $250 million range, but director James Cameron isn’t ready to give a hard figure just yet. The only answer Cameron would give about the sequel’s budget when asked GQ magazine was the following: “Very damn [expensive].”
Cameron apparently told Disney and 20th Century Studios executives that his follow-up budget was so high that it represented “the worst business case in movie history.” According to the director’s estimates, “you should be the third or fourth highest grossing movie in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
On the current list of highest-grossing films worldwide (unadjusted for inflation), Cameron’s 2009 original “Avatar” tops with $2.9 billion. Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” is second with $2.7 million, while Cameron’s “Titanic” remains in third place with $2.1 billion. If “Avatar: The Way of Water” is to break even, it must overtake either “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($2.07 billion) or “Avengers: Infinity War” ($2.05 billion) in the fourth or fifth slot, respectively.
Only five films worldwide have ever crossed the $2 billion mark, unadjusted for inflation. While the pandemic has impacted moviegoing, movies like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” ($1.9 billion) and “Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.4 billion) have managed to make huge profits, so there is hope for “The Way of Water.”
The original “Avatar” grossed $749 million domestically and ranks number four on the all-time US box office chart, unadjusted for inflation. The fifth slot features “Top Gun: Maverick” with $749 million in the house.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” hits theaters December 16.