How expensive is 'Avatar 2'? James Cameron feels it has to be 'third highest grossing' film to break even

In a recent interview, filmmaker James Cameron noted how much 'Avatar: The Way of Water' needs to earn to be called a 'success'

How expensive is 'Avatar 2'? James Cameron feels it has to be 'third highest grossing' film to break even
A still from James Cameron's 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images and 20th Century Studios)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: In 2009, filmmaker James Cameron stunned the world when he came out with his ground-breaking creation ‘Avatar’. The movie shattered all the box office records and received universal acclaim for epic storytelling and the usage of technology that was never ever used in the history of cinema. The film went on to earn more than $2.9 billion globally on a massive production budget of $237 million. 13 years later, Cameron is set to enthrall us with another ‘Avatar’ movie, titled ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’, and it turns out that the production budget of the upcoming film is so high that it has to become the fourth or fifth highest-grossing movie of all time to break even.

In 2009, a production budget of $237 million was a huge thing and no other movie had this kind of budget behind it. However, Cameron was ready to take a chance and when the movie came out, it surpassed all expectations and turned out to be a pivotal moment in his career. ‘Avatar’ became the first film ever to cross the $2 billion mark at the box office and won three Academy Awards. The movie was responsible for encouraging other production companies to use 3D technology and release films in 3D. However, it seems Cameron is ready to take it to a whole new level with the second movie in the franchise because the latest movie is just “very f***ing expensive.”

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A still from 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (20th Century Studios)
A still from 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (20th Century Studios)

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In a recent interview with GQ, the 68-year-old director was asked about the film budget and even though he didn’t tell the exact number, he did state that the movie has to do a phenomenal job at the box office to cover the production cost. During the conversation, Cameron also noted that the budget of the sequel is so high that he told the executives of Disney and 20th Century Studios that it represented “the worst business case in movie history.”

He added, “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”

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Director James Cameron of the television show AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction speaks onstage during the AMC portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 13, 2018 in Pasadena, California.
Director James Cameron of the television show AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction speaks onstage during the AMC portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 13, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AMC)

Now, that’s a pretty tough task to achieve and even though ‘The Way of Water’ is expected to have a gigantic opening in its opening weekend, it will all depend on word-of-mouth or initial reactions as to how the movie will do when it hit the theatres.

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As far as the list of highest-grossing movies is concerned, ‘Avatar’ sits at the top with $2.92 billion while ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is second with $2.79 billion. The third position on the list is held by another Cameron movie ‘Titanic’, which has total earnings of $2.20 billion. Meanwhile, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ ($2.06 billion) and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ ($2.04 billion) round off the Top 5.

According to the list, ‘The Way of Water’ has to be somewhere between ‘Titanic’ and ‘The Force Awakens’ in the list to be called a “blockbuster” and Cameron knows that the performance of ‘The Way of Water’ will pave the way for the upcoming ‘Avatar’ sequels.

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In 2022, only one movie has managed to cross the $1 billion mark at the box office and it’s none other than Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. Will ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ be the second movie to break the $1 billion mark? We’ll get to know when the movie hits theatres on December 16, 2022.

Official still from 'Avatar' (20th Century Studios)
Official still from 'Avatar' (20th Century Studios)

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The movie sees Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana returning as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Meanwhile, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang also return as Kiri and Colonel Miles Quaritch. On the other hand, actors such as Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Jamie Flatters, and Britain Dalton join the movie as the new cast members.

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