Avatar: The Way of Water’s Colossal Budget Makes it One of the Most Expensive Movies Ever Made

The long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water has cost a pretty penny to bring to the big screen, with reports claiming that the budget for the sci-fi sequel has ballooned to a monstrous $350-$400 million. Coming courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, and citing an unnamed source close to production, Avatar: The Way of Water is now one of the most expensive movies ever made. And even a box office gross of $1 billion would be something of a disappointment financially.

Considering that a general rule for establishing the total cost of a movie is to double the production budget in order to roughly calculate marketing, Avatar: The Way of Water could very well sit at the tippy-top of the list when it comes to the costliest movies of all time. At present, neither 20th Century Studios nor Lightstorm Entertainment have revealed the budget behind Avatar: The Way of Water, but earlier reports have claimed that it is closer to $250 million. Which now seems unlikely.


Such a colossal budget chimes with the recent words of Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron, who called the project “very f—ing” expensive and “the worst business case in movie history.” The filmmaker, who is of course responsible for some of the most successful movies of all time with Titanic and the first Avatar even added that “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”

But, if any movie can reach such a ludicrously high box office threshold, then surely its Avatar: The Way of Water. Current predictions put the opening takings at around $150 million domestically, with some even saying it could be as much as $175 million. Which would be one hell of a good start.

Avatar: The Way of Water is Just the First of Several Sequels

20th Century Studios

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water tells 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. The first of several Avatar sequels will pick up some 13 years after the first record-breaking outing, introducing audiences to Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldaña) new family, which includes several native Na’vi children, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuktirey (Trinity Bliss), as well as the human child Miles Socorro (Jack Champion).

Directed by James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Dileep Rao, and Matt Gerald, each of whom will reprise their roles from the original movie, with Sigourney Weaver returning as a new character. New cast members include Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, and Brendan Cowell.

Avatar: The Way of Water is due for release on December 16, 2022. A further three sequels have also been given release dates, with the multiple follow-ups scheduled to be released on December 20, 2024, December 18, 2026, and December 22, 2028, respectively.