James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which he directed and starred in, earned almost $2 billion at the international box office in its first six weeks of release, shattering three previous records. Avatar 2 swiftly overtook Top Gun: Maverick as 2022’s highest-grossing film, despite receiving less attention than its predecessor. The long-awaited 2022 sequel will continue the franchise’s impressive box office feats by outgrossing blockbuster MCU films, going against the grain of pandemic box office trends, and breaking records that won’t be easy to beat. James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) currently holds the record for the highest-grossing movie at more than $2.9 billion.
More than $2.02 billion has been made by Avatar: The Way of Water as of January 23, and that amount is only expected to climb as long as the Avatar sequel stays in theaters rather than being released on Disney Plus. Even if Avatar 2 doesn’t make as much money as the first picture, it will still contribute to the franchise’s surprising status as a modern box office sensation. Further records are predicted to be smashed before the film leaves theaters. Still, the fact that Avatar: The Way of Water grossed over $2 billion worldwide is a significant accomplishment for the film, its director James Cameron, and Neytiri’s actress Zoe Saldana.
Including Avatar 2, five other movies have made over $2 billion at the box office.
Six films have now earned over $2 billion at the box office, with Avatar: The Way of Water joining that elite group. At this time, the 2022 film has a projected gross of $2.80 billion, putting it in fifth place all-time behind Avatar ($2.92 billion), Avengers: Infinity War ($2.05 billion), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion), and Titanic ($2.187 billion). The Titanic is the only movie on this list released before the turn of the century and is not part of a significant Disney-backed franchise. Currently, Avatar is the first franchise to have every picture gross over $2 billion at the box office, a record that could very well be maintained by the three sequels still to come.
With blockbuster series like the MCU and DCEU struggling to break the $1 billion mark, Avatar: The Way of Water’s success at the box office is all the more impressive. With a 13-year gap between the original and the sequel, exceeding $2 billion would be an impossible target for Avatar 2. It’s not shocking that the Avatar films have been so successful at the box office, with their family-friendly stories and innovative cinematography. This was a significant component of the movie’s appeal, which helped bring in over $1.48 billion and laid the stage for Avatar 2’s dominance at the box office in 2022.
Only James Cameron can claim three films with gross receipts of $2 billion.
It’s common knowledge at this point that you should never count out James Cameron at the box office, thanks to the massive success of Avatar. Cameron is the only director in history to oversee three films that grossed over $2 billion: Titanic, Avatar, and Avatar 2. Even more astounding is that these three films are Cameron’s sole full-length offerings since 1997, and they have all made over $2 billion at the box office.
Before Infinity War and Endgame, the Russo brothers and Cameron each had two films grossing over $2 billion, but now Cameron is the sole holder of this record thanks to his third $2 billion film. James Cameron has directed half of the movies that have made over $2 billion worldwide, which is a significant accomplishment given that only six films have earned this much. It’s unlikely that James Cameron’s box office record will be surpassed or even tied any time soon, given the only movies scheduled for release by the Russo brothers will be made available only through Netflix’s streaming service rather than in cinemas.
Only one other actor, Zoe Saldaa, has been in four of the six films that have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide.
Avatar: The Way of Water only added to Zoe Saldana’s already impressive box office lead as Neytiri. Following the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, Zoe Saldaa has starred in four of the six films that have earned over $2 billion worldwide, surpassing her previous record of two. Saldaa played Neytiri in the Avatar films, Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and was noticeably absent from the casts of Titanic and The Force Awakens.
Actress Zoe Saldana returns in Avatar: The Way of Water, and while she has appeared in four of the top-grossing movies of all time, she is not the highest-grossing actor. If you don’t count Stan Lee’s cameo appearances, this honor goes to Saldaa’s co-star in Infinity War and Endgame, Samuel L. Jackson. The actor has made approximately $27.7 billion at the box office worldwide from his more than 120 films (via The Numbers). Over $14 billion has been made from Zoe Saldaa’s film career so far, making her one of the highest-grossing actors of all time.
Before leaving theaters, how much money do you think Avatar: The Way of Water will make?
Avatar: The Way of Water outpaced the original Avatar by nearly a week to exceed $2 billion at the box office in just six weeks. Given that Top Gun: Maverick has made an additional $500 million in the seven months after it crossed the $1 billion mark in June 2022, it is feasible that Avatar: The Way of Water, thanks to its out-of-the-ordinary performance at the box office, may do the same before the end of its theatrical run. The Oscars will be held in March 2023, and there is a lot of excitement surrounding the film’s chances of winning big. This could lead to an uptick in ticket sales through early March.
It’s expected that Avatar: The Way of Water will make over $2.5 billion at the box office before it finally leaves cinemas, which will be around for a while. This would make it the third highest-grossing film of all time, after only Endgame and Avatar, and place it within $200 million of Titanic in global box office earnings. But with a 25th-anniversary re-release coming in February, James Cameron’s Titanic from 1997 has a chance to steal the crown back from James Cameron’s Avatar 2. In its 2012 re-release, Titanic earned $350 million worldwide; if it performs as well as it did, it will be worth more than $2.5 billion by the time it is finished.
The film’s quite doubtful that Avatar: The Way of Water will make more than $3 billion at the box office before it leaves cinemas, but if it receives global re-releases in the years to come, it might surpass the 2009 original. Box office competition between James Cameron’s Titanic and James Cameron’s Avatar 2 will heat up in February, with the latter film likely coming out on top. Whether it can surpass expectations, Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to complete its theatrical run with over $2.5 billion, making it the third highest-grossing picture of all time.