James Cameron Admits Avatar: The Way of Water Is Facing a Ton of Pressure

Avatar was released in 2009, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.84 billion at the box office. The feat has yet to be matched, despite a back and forth with Avengers: Endgame in 2021. The enormous success of the James Cameron-helmed film brought four sequels to the forefront, with Avatar 2 and 3 filming back-to-back as the crew tried to speed up the process between installments. Now, Avatar: The Way of Water, the second movie in the franchise, is set for release later this year, and Cameron recognizes the pressure put on the film.


During an interview with Jake Coyle and the Associated Press, Cameron was asked whether he is nervous about the upcoming Avatar sequel. His answer: “Anyone who says they don’t get nervous before a movie drops is a lying son of a (expletive).” He would continue, calling The Way of Water “a big bet.”

“Yeah, it’s a big play. It’s a big bet. And we won’t know where we are until the second or third weekend. The success of the first film — we had a pretty good opening at $75 million. But openings are dwarfing that by factors of two or even three these days. Even if we have a stellar opening, we won’t really know where we are for a couple weeks because it was the return visits on the first one. It was people wanting to go share. If we get that again, we’ll probably be on solid ground.”

According to IMDb, the estimated budget for Avatar: The Way of Water is $250 million, not far from the cost of the original film. Of course, the studio will be looking to make somewhere in the $700 million to $1 billion range at a minimum to recuperate production costs and the marketing spent on the movie. It’s hard to say how the upcoming sequel will perform, but audiences, and Cameron, will find out when Avatar: The Way of Water dives into theaters on Dec. 16, later this year.

James Cameron Hopes People Embrace Avatar: The Way of Water

20th Century Studios/Empire

Although it’s very likely we will see Avatar 3 at some point due to how far along they are in production, the fate of the planned fourth and fifth movies is still up in the air. James Cameron realizes audiences have changed in the 13 years since the initial film’s release, and he hopes people will continue to give the world of pandora a chance.

“Nobody knows. The market has changed. Twenty-five percent could be our entire margin. It’s one thing to make a lot of money, it’s another thing to actually make a profit,” Cameron admits. The Avatar films have an enormous budget, and a big debut at the box office may not be enough to make the movie profitable. He continues, “We’re not going to keep making movies that lose money even though they look good and make a ton of money. This is a wait-and-see, let’s-put-it-out-there-and-see-if-people-embrace-it kind of situation.”

It’s nearly time for audiences to jump back into the world of Pandora, but will enough people be interested in the adventures of Jake and Neytiri? Fans will know in three months when Avatar: The Way of Water debuts in theaters.