In a self-admitted case of Hollywood budgeting run amok, Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron has revealed that in order for the sequel to be considered even remotely profitable, it has to end its theatrical run as “the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history”.
The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day director provided this insight into his return to trip to Pandora’s necessary financial milestones during a recent profile interview given to GQ.
Asked by the outlet’s senior staff writer Zach Baron if he could give any details as to just how much money was spent on his nine-year journey to bring The Way of Water to realization, Cameron simply asserted that the film was “very f–king” expensive.
Recalling how he had admitted to Disney higher-ups that the film was “the worst business case in movie history,” the director then proceeded to inform Baron that The Way of Water would “have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” in order to turn a profit.
“That’s your threshold,” he added. “That’s your break even.”
Yet, despite this daunting goal, Cameron found himself unwilling to compromise on his artistic visions, no matter the cost.
“I used to be really defensive about [the fact that films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Titanic were some of the most expensive to produce] because it was always the first thing anybody would mention,” he explained. “And now I’m like, if I can make a business case to spend a billion dollars on a movie, I will f–king do it.”
“Do you want to know why?” Cameron then asked Baron. “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?” he argued.
According to Box Office Mojo, as of this article’s writing, Avatar: The Way of Water needs to secure at least $2.7 billion dollars at the worldwide box office – and in the process de-rank Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – in order to “break even”.
And while this feat may seem daunting, The Way of Water may have a fair chance at pulling it off thanks to the announcement that China will in fact be allowing the Na’vi to once again cross their borders.
After all, it was thanks in large part to audiences within the Red Dragon that the first Avatar film was able to take home its record setting $2.9 billion worldwide box office pull.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently set to release in theaters on December 16th, 2022.
As confirmed to Baron by Cameron, a third entry in the franchise has already been filmed, and a fourth is currently shooting.