James Cameron Sets Historic Box Office Milestone With Avatar 2 Success

By Russ Milheim Updated:
Avatar The Way of Water James Cameron

The success of Avatar: The Way of Water has made James Cameron even richer and advanced him further among the highest-grossing directors of all time.

Just months ago, some audiences claimed nobody cared about Avatar and haven’t since the original debuted in 2009. While it certainly may have felt that way, it’s become very clear the world has not gotten over Cameron’s sci-fi epic.

Amazingly, for the second Avatar movie to even make a profit in theaters, it had to earn approximately over $1.4 billion worldwide. Somehow, the movie has now blown past that total in less than a month, overtaking Top Gun: Maverick as the most successful cinematic outing of the year.

Becoming the Box Office Champ

Avatar, Kiri

With the success of Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron has continued to climb through cinematic achievement.

One of the most recent ones is how Cameron has become the first director with three movies over $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office. When it comes to the highest-earning directors of all time globally, Cameron now sits in second place, just below Steven Spielberg and right above the Russo Brothers:

  1. Steven Spielberg - $10.65B
  2. James Cameron - $7.88B
  3. The Russo Brothers - $6.84B
  4. Peter Jackson - $6.54B
  5. Michael Bay - $6.5B
  6. David Yates - $6.35B
  7. Christopher Nolan - $4.96B
  8. J.J. Abrams - $4.65B
  9. Tim Burton - $4.41B
  10. Ridley Scott - $4.37B

Given Avatar’s popularity and how there are two to three sequels in development, Cameron will almost certainly surpass Spielberg’s massive total over the next few years.

The only other directors with multiple movies over $1.5 billion global , like James Cameron, are the Russo Brothers, who are known for their work over at Marvel Studios.

When it comes to directors who have multiple movies over $1 billion, that exclusive list includes James Cameron, Colin Trevorrow, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Jon Watts, James Wan, Pierre Coffin & Kyler Balda, Michael Bay, and the Russo Brothers.

As for the top 10 highest-grossing films ever on a worldwide level, Avatar: The Way of Water now sits in the ninth position:

1.) Avatar - $2.92B
2.) Avengers: Endgame - $2.80B
3.) Titanic - $2.20B
4.) Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - $2.07B
5.) Avengers: Infinity War - $2.05B
6.) Spider-Man: No Way Home - $1.92B
7.) Jurassic World - $1.67B
8.) The Lion King - $1.66B
9.) Avatar: The Way of Water - $1.56B
10.) The Avengers - $1.52B

The Avatar Franchise Has a Bright Future Ahead of Itself

In a previous interview, the director stated that since the second movie has been such a success, "[he's] sure… [he’ll] have a discussion soon with the top folks at Disney" regarding Avatar 3 and beyond.

Even so, a third movie was already happening for sure—it’s already filmed and in post-production. The only story elements known as of now are how it will bring the fire Na’Vi into the picture and potentially showcase humanity in a better light.

Footage for a fourth movie has even been shot, though the outing isn’t quite complete. However, it’s hard to see a future that doesn’t include multiple new installments.

Now the real question is if this momentum will carry over into 2024, a year completely stacked with competition, such as Captain America: New World Order, a possible fourth Spider-Man film, and Deadpool 3.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.