The Way Of Water Is About To Break Even As Its Worldwide Box Office Total Reaches $1.38 Billion

The budget for “Avatar: The Way of Water” is more complicated than most blockbusters, because it was never designed as a solo film, but as the next building block in a much bigger franchise. As early as 2006, three years before the release of “Avatar,” Cameron floated the idea of shooting two sequels back-to-back if the first movie was successful (it was). 

When multiple films are given the green light at once, it’s often more cost-effective to shoot them all in one go; that’s how Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy got so much production value out of an average budget of less than $100 million per movie. Similarly, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was shot back-to-back with “Avatar 3,” along with the first chunk of “Avatar 4.” As such, it’s difficult to precisely parse out the budget for each individual sequel.

Cameron has called his budget demands for the “Avatar” sequels “the worst business case in movie history,” and he’s probably the only director on the planet who could have made such a pitch successfully. But he isn’t biting his nails over the box office numbers for “The Way of Water,” since he believes the budget was well spent regardless of how much money the movie ultimately makes.

“If I can make a business case to spend a billion dollars on a movie, I will f***ing do it. Do you want to know why? Because we don’t put it all on a pile and light it on fire. We give it to people. If the studio agrees and thinks it’s a good investment, as opposed to buying an oil lease off of the north of Scotland, which somebody would think was a good investment, why not do it?”

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