Despite needing to become one of the top 10 grossing movies in history in order to break even, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water has, in fact, crossed that line less than a month after its release — which means that not only are we going to keep visiting Pandora for the next few years, but Cameron also gets to take a slightly unconvincing humble tone in discussing the movie’s success.
“It looks like just with the momentum that the film has now that will easily pass our break even in the next few days, so it looks like I can’t wiggle out of this, I’m gonna have to do these other sequels,” Cameron said on HBO’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace. That’s a good thing, given that around 95% of the third movie has already been shot, along with part of the fourth, according to producer Jon Landau-- sure would be embarrassing to have to waste all of that effort if the movie hadn’t hit the undefined magic number.
Previously, Cameron had said that, had the second Avatar failed to break even, the series could wrap early. “The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘OK, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly’, if it’s just not profitable,” he’d said before the film’s release.
Sources have suggested that the break-even point for the movie was $1.4 billion; as of yesterday, The Way of Water had made somewhere in the region of $1.547 billion, making it the ninth most successful movie ever released — less than a month after it hit theaters. In breaking the $1.5 billion barrier, it also beat Top Gun: Maverick to become the most successful movie of 2022.
While Cameron is clearly humble bragging just a little with his, “I can’t wiggle out of this, I’m gonna have to do these sequels” pose, he’s allowed a small level of smack talk given the early commentary about the movie “underperforming” in its first week of release.
Avatar: The Way of Water is still in theaters, and still making money. The untitled third Avatar movie is penciled in for a December 2024 release date.
If you’re needing a primer in all things Pandora before the new movie, we’ve got you covered.