Avatar: The Way of Water Must Become One of the Top 5 Highest-Grossing Movies in History to Break Even

Production of the long-awaited sci-fi sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, has become so expensive that director James Cameron has now stated that the movie will “have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” just to break even. Meaning it will need to gross over $2 billion. Speaking with GQ about the project, Cameron explained that, due to the production having to try different things over and over again to realize his vision, Avatar: The Way of Water is now “very f—ing” expensive.

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

Cameron even provided an example of just how much effort, and thus how much expense, has been put into bringing Avatar: The Way of Water to life. Showing off a single effects shot numbered 405, Cameron said, “That means there’s been 405 versions of this before it gets to me.” While this all sounds like more than enough to drive an ordinary person mad, Cameron would not have it any other way, with the filmmaker declaring how much he loves for things to be difficult.

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“I like difficult. I’m attracted by difficult. Difficult is a fucking magnet for me. I go straight to difficult. And I think it probably goes back to this idea that there are lots of smart, really gifted, really talented filmmakers out there that just can’t do the difficult stuff. So that gives me a tactical edge to do something nobody else has ever seen, because the really gifted people don’t fucking want to do it.”

But with Avatar: The Way of Water now needing one of the biggest box office takings in cinematic history just to break even, will all of this have been too difficult for even James Cameron to make successful?

James Cameron Has a Plan if Avatar: The Way of Water Bombs at the Box Office

20th Century Studios

With such a near-impossible task at hand, Cameron has already made plans for Avatar: The Way of Water bombing at the box office. He would wrap it up with a trilogy instead. “The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘Okay, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly,’ if it’s just not profitable … We’re in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even,” the director explained. “It’s the one-two punch – the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we’ll remind people what going to the theater is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a s— now?”

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family, the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, CCH Pounder, Matt Gerald, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Oona Chaplin, Vin Diesel, and CJ Jones, Avatar: The Way of Water is due for release on December 16, 2022.