Avatar: The Way of Water shoots past major box-office milestone – but that doesn’t mean it will break even

Avatar: The Way of Water has passed the $1bn (£830m) mark at the global box office within two weeks of its release.

All eyes have been on the figures of James Cameron’s sequel, considering it is one of the most expensive films of all time.

It also has large shoes to fill given The Way of Water is the follow-up to 2009’s Avatar, which became the highest-grossing film of all time.

Since its release on 14 December, the film has made more than $300m (£249m) domestically in the US and approximately another $700m (£581m) from overseas.

These figures make The Way of Water the third film in 2022 to hit the milestone of $1bn (£830m), coming just after Jurassic World Dominion ($1.003bn / £833m ) and Top Gun: Maverick ($1.488bn / £1.24bn).

At the time of writing, Cameron’s big-budget sequel is on the way to overtaking Dominion on that list, and is expected to surpass Top Gun to become the best performing film of the year.

After a successful opening weekend, the film was on course to hit $1bn (£830m) in the new year. It has, however, achieved that milestone much quicker than anticipated.

Analysts noticed that the sequel performed a lot better than the first Avatar did in its opening weekend.

James Cameron fotografiado en el estreno mundial de 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
James Cameron fotografiado en el estreno mundial de 'Avatar: The Way of Water' (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

While this is a tremendous commercial feat for any movie, it may not be enough to turn a profit given the film’s huge budget.

The budget ballooned due to the technology required by Cameron to depict the film’s extended underwater sequences.

The director previously said that the sequel is “very f***ing” expensive. Cameron said that in order for The Way of Water to turn a profit, it would have to become the “third or fourth highest-grossing film in history”.


This means that The Way of Water would have to usurp either his own Titanic ($2.2bn) or Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£2.07bn), which are the third and fourth highest-grossing films, respectively.

As per Collider, projections put The Way of Water’s final box office takings between $1.6bn and $1.9bn, which wouldn’t be quite enough to break even.