Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the most highly-anticipated sequels in movie history, with the first film sitting atop the box office revenue history with a staggering $2.9 billion. We know that the production of such CGI-heavy films is expensive, but how expensive is it? How much does Avatar: The Way of Water have to bring in at the box office to become profitable?
According to the director, James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water is ‘the worst business case in movie history’ that needs to go north of $2 billion in box office numbers to make any profit. He didn’t disclose precisely how much was invested in the film, though.
We all knew that the movie would be insanely expensive, but $2 billion? That’s beyond much. Cameron also stated that the future of the franchise would highly depend on this movie’s success, so if it doesn’t go haywire at the box office, we might be looking at the end of the series despite plans for five Avatar films. Here’s everything we know so far.
Avatar: The Way of Water Brief Synopsis & Info
The last trailer for the Avatar sequel, titled The Way of Water, just dropped a few days ago. However, still not all that much is revealed about the movie’s plot. The official IMDb synopsis states:
“Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.”
The movie was directed by James Cameron, and he worked on the script as a writer as well, with the help of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The stars of the movie are Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Sam Worthington, Giovanni Ribisi, and others.
Also, we know that the producers aren’t planning on stopping the franchise any time soon. In an interview with GQ, Cameron shared that the plans are to go for five Avatar movies to complete the story properly. However, if the numbers don’t pan out in their favor, they’d be content with ending the story with a trilogy.
And, as it turns out, reaching the numbers necessary to make it all work, and pay out, will literally have to be historically great.
How much does Avatar: The Way of Water need to earn to make a profit?
The first Avatar movie sits on the throne of film history as the highest-grossing movie of all time, with an insane $2.9 billion. That’s more than Avengers: Endgame ($2.7 billion), Titanic ($2.2 billion, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion). That’s why Cameron is known as the ‘box office king.’
With that being said, it’s reasonable to expect Avatar: The Way of Water to be a huge box office hit. But just how huge of a hit does it have to be to make a profit?
In the same GQ interview, Cameron suggested that the film has to go fourth-best of all time in box office numbers to break even or third to start going into the green.
“You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
The writer/director also said that the sequel to his biggest hit ever was “very f**cking expensive” and that it was “‘the worst business case in movie history.” When you put all that into context, it means that the total cost of Avatar: The Way of Water was significantly higher than previously estimated. At least, that’s what the director said.
That being said, he didn’t specify numbers, and he did say a third movie is happening for sure, but if those movies get good numbers, they already have Avatar 4 and 5 set.
“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.”
Seeing that Cameron and the producers are bound to make at least three films, perhaps that’s why he set the profit threshold for Avatar 2 so high. If Avatar: The Way of Water can have such historically high numbers – like, the third or fourth best box office in history – that’d mean it covers for all the sequels to make them profitable even if they flop.