Just over two weeks into its theatrical run, Avatar: The Way of Water has already delivered on the legacy of its $2.9 billion grossing predecessor with another box office hit. Following its third weekend, Avatar 2 currently stands with $440 million domestic and $957 million international gross for a $1.4 billion total in its theatrical run.
As this already places the sequel as the 14th highest-grossing movie of all time, The Way of Water already represents a box office hit. The sequel has also claimed multiple records, including one previously held by Spider-Man: No Way Home but according to the latest reports, it has still yet to turn a profit for Disney.
Avatar 2 Still Hasn't Made A Profit
A recent report from Variety noted a prediction from box office analysts who have estimated that Avatar: The Way of Water needs to gross $1.5 billion to turn a profit. After grossing just over $1.4 billion worldwide after two weeks in theaters, the James Cameron sequel has yet to cross its profitability threshold.
Cameron has previously revealed to Variety that Avatar 2 needs to gross at least $2 billion to become profitable at the box office. The legendary director claimed the sequel was "very f***ing expensive" and represents “the worst business case in movie history.”
He estimated that The Way of Water will “have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history" to "break even." The current third and fourth-placed box office hits are Titanic's $2.19B and Star Wars: The Force Awakens' $2.068B, placing Cameron's apparent profitability threshold just over the $2B mark.
Why Avatar 2 Needs To Make So Much Money
Having grossed $1.4 billion after just two weeks, Avatar: The Way of Water clearly represents a historic box office success. It's already one of the 15 highest-grossing movies of all time, and will likely surpass Furious 7's $1.5B to enter the top ten and cross its profitability window in the coming weeks.
With Cameron having described the film as “the worst business case in movie history,” Disney will undoubtedly be looking to correct this for the coming sequels. As The Way of Water has already proven the franchise potential of Avatar, the studio will want to ensure maximum profitability from future entries.
The massive $1.5B profitability threshold is likely a result of the immense $300-400M estimated budget - which may be even higher - along with the many years of extended development. Not to mention, that figure fails to factor in the marketing costs and cuts taken by theaters, both of which detract from the final profit figure.
January doesn't currently hold any real blockbuster competition to Avatar 2, with no strong competitors arriving until February's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. This extended gap will allow The Way of Water to continue succeeding through most of the month but does come with further costs.
Not only does this above-average run mean that Disney will be prominently marketing The Way of Water for far longer, but theaters also take a larger revenue share of these leggier releases. Obviously, this detracts further money from the studio and leaves the movie needing to gross more than usual to turn a profit.
Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters worldwide.