Between being in production for 13 years and being shot back to back with “Avatar 3” (and part of “Avatar 4”), calculating how much “Avatar: The Way of Water” needed to make in order to break even was complicated (even more so than usual when it comes to Hollywood accounting). Insiders speculated it was in the black once it hit around $1.4 billion, but James Cameron himself set the bar higher.
Describing the movie as “very f***ing [expensive]”, Cameron said that when a movie costs this much to make, “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
Cameron already acknowledged a while back that “Avatar: The Way of Water” was successful enough to get the sequels greenlit and keep him locked into making blue alien movies “for the next six or seven years.” Still, there aren’t many directors on the planet who could set the minimum goal of making the fourth biggest movie of all time, and then actually do it.