It’s official – James Cameron has done it again. Even in the strange new world we find ourselves in after a global pandemic, the legendary filmmaker has continued to defy the odds and expectations of him, outdoing himself once again, as his blockbuster sequel to Avatar has smashed another box office record. Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited follow-up to the highest grossing film of all time (at $2.9 billion), today crossed the $1.916 billion mark set by 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home to become both the sixth-highest grossing film of all time, and the highest-grossing movie of the post-pandemic era.
The movie’s next major hurdle is breaching that coveted $2 billion dollar mark, a feat which has only been achieved by five other movies in history – Avatar, Avengers: Endgame (with $2.79 million), Titanic ($2.2 billion), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.069 billion) and Avengers: Infinity War ($2.04 billion). Should The Way of Water hit that milestone, it would mean half of the films in that Big Six were directed by Cameron, a man who truly knows the meaning of the word “blockbuster”.
To date, The Way of Water has grossed $574 million in North America and $1.35 billion internationally after less than six weeks in theaters, following its release on December 16th last year. The international tally is all the more impressive when external factors like a lack of performance in Japan, where the original grossed $176 million, and the total absence of screenings in Russia – more than $100 million grossed originally.
At the domestic box office, it currently stands at 13th in the all-time table, having just passed The Lion King, The Dark Knight, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Overseas, the film is $20 million away from becoming the fourth-highest grossing film of all time, closing in on Infinity War which grossed $1.370 billion internationally.
The film cost $460 million to produce and promote, and as a result, is one of the most expensive films ever made. A figure of $1.4 billion to break even was banded around, but that was easily passed, with Cameron himself confirming that he now expected to be extremely busy finishing the next three films in his space fantasy franchise. Having developed his own technology to shoot The Way of Water and its subsequent sequels, the budgets and break-even points for the follow-ups is expected to be significantly lower.
Avatar 3 is scheduled to open in theaters in December 2024. The Way of Water is currently playing in theaters.