‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Becomes No. 5 Highest-Grossing Movie Ever (UPDATE)

The James Cameron-directed sequel became the top-grossing film of 2022, and now it's the fifth highest-earning movie of all time internationally.

Signage is seen during the “Avatar: The Way of Water”

Image via Getty/Alberto E. Rodriguez

Signage is seen during the “Avatar: The Way of Water”

UPDATED 1/26, 8:40 p.m. ET:Avatar: The Way of Water continues to reach new heights. 

The long-awaited sequel has pushed its worldwide box office haul to $2.054 billion, which puts it at No. 5 among the highest-grossing films of all-time, as reported by Deadline. The Way of Water now gives James Cameron three of the top five highest-earning movies globally, joining 1997’s Titanic and 2009’s Avatar.   

Heading into the theatrical release of The Way of Water, Cameron mentioned that the sequel would need to be one of the highest-grossing films of all-time in order to break even. He seemingly took his victory lap of sorts earlier this month when he declared on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace that “I’m gonna have to do these other sequels." 

The third installment in the Avatar franchise is expected to hit theaters on Dec. 20, 2024. 

See original story below. 

Avatar: The Way of Water has emerged as the top-grossing film of 2022.

Since its release nearly three weeks ago, the James Cameron-directed sequel has generated about $454 million domestically and $1 billion worldwide, making it the No. 10-top grossing film of all time, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The newly released figures put Avatar 2 ahead of Top Gun: Maverick, which has raked in nearly $1.5 billion in ticket sales since its debut in May of last year.

THR reports the 20th Century Studios/Disney film is now the second highest grosser of the pandemic era, trailing 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home ($1.916 billion). The original Avatar, also directed by Cameron, debuted in 2009 and is now the highest-grossing film of all time—thanks in large part to multiple re-releases. The first installment has earned $2.9 billion in sales, 

By comparison, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame is the second-highest grossing film in history with about $2.8 billion, while Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic stands at No. 3 with $2.2 billion. 

Considering its massive and rapid success, Avatar 2 will undoubtedly hit the $2 billion mark, making it the sixth film in history to ever do so. Other projects that have reached the milestone are Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens ($2.069 billion), and Avengers: Infinity War ($2.048 billion).

During a November 2022 interview with GQ, Cameron spoke about the Avatar 2 budget (approximately $250 million) and how it represented “the worst business case in movie history.” He told the magazine that the much-anticipated sequel would have to become “the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” in order to be profitable.

“That’s your threshold. That’s your break even,” he said. 

Avatar 2 stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, and Stephen Lang. and has already nabbed numerous accolades, including Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture-Drama and Best Director.

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