After six weeks in theaters, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water has crossed the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office, which breaks three incredible movie records. After being underestimated for its lack of a widespread vocal fandom, Avatar 2 surpassed initial expectations to quickly dethrone Top Gun: Maverick as the highest-grossing movie of 2022. Since James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) holds the record for the highest-grossing movie of all time at more than $2.9 billion, the long-awaited 2022 sequel continues the franchise’s impressive box office feats by surpassing hit MCU films, defying pandemic box office trends, and breaking records that won’t be easy to beat.
As of January 23, Avatar: The Way of Water has earned over $2.02 billion at the box office, with this number continuing to grow as the Avatar sequel remains in theaters and avoids a Disney Plus streaming release. Avatar 2 may not gross as much money as the original film, but its success has contributed to the shocking nature of the franchise as a modern box office phenomenon, with more records expected to be broken before it exits theaters. Still, Avatar: The Way of Water surpassing $2 billion at the worldwide box office has already earned huge record-breaking achievements for the film itself, director James Cameron, and Neytiri actress Zoe Saldaña.
Avatar 2 Is The Sixth Film To Earn Over $2 Billion At The Box Office
Avatar: The Way of Water has made history by becoming one of six films to earn at least $2 billion at the box office. The 2022 movie currently stands behind Avengers: Infinity War ($2.05 billion), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion), Titanic ($2.187 billion), Avengers: Endgame ($2.80 billion), and Avatar ($2.92 billion). Box office smash Titanic remains the only film on this list to be released before the 21st century, as well as the only title that isn’t part of a major Disney-backed franchise. Avatar is also now the only franchise to have every film earn over $2 billion at the box office, an accomplishment that could be maintained by its three upcoming sequels.
Considering how difficult it has proven for massive franchises like the MCU and DCEU to reach $1 billion at the box office, Avatar: The Way of Water’s ability to earn double this benchmark is an incredible feat. With a 13-year gap between the sequel and the original film, it seemed that interest in Avatar 2 had waned substantially enough that crossing $2 billion was an unrealistic goal. But, given the Avatar franchise caters to cinematic viewing with a family-friendly story and groundbreaking visuals, its success shouldn’t be all that surprising. This was part of the same appeal that helped 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick break box office records and earn over $1.48 billion, setting the stage for Avatar 2’s domination.
James Cameron Is The Only Director To Have Three $2 Billion+ Movies
After the success of Avatar, it became general knowledge to never underestimate the power of James Cameron at the box office. With Titanic, Avatar, and Avatar 2, Cameron now holds the record for being the only director to helm three movies that earned over $2 billion. Even more impressive, these are the only three feature films that Cameron has released since 1997, making them consecutive $2 billion earners for the director.
Cameron was previously tied with Infinity War and Endgame directors the Russo brothers for having two $2 billion movies, but now holds the sole title with three. Since only six movies have earned this much, James Cameron has directed half of the films to reach $2 billion at the box office. The Russo brothers’ only upcoming movies are being released through streaming on Netflix rather than theaters, so James Cameron’s box office record isn’t expected to be broken or tied anytime soon.
Zoe Saldaña Is The Only Actor To Star In Four Of The Six $2 Billion Box Office Movies
Neytiri actress Zoe Saldaña already held a coveted box office record for actors, with Avatar: The Way of Water extending her lead. Zoe Saldaña has broken her own record for starring in the most $2 billion-earning movies, as Avatar: The Way of Water brings her total up to four of the six movies on this list. Saldaña starred as Neytiri in Avatar and Avatar 2 as well as Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, though she was not part of the cast of Titanic or Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While the returning Avatar: The Way of Water actress has starred in four of the highest-grossing films of all time, she doesn’t hold the record for being the actor with the highest box office accumulation. If excluding Stan Lee, who only made cameos in his films, this achievement goes to Saldaña’s Infinity War and Endgame co-star Samuel L. Jackson. The actor’s filmography, which includes over 120 movies, has accumulated over $27.7 billion at the worldwide box office (via The Numbers). When added together, Zoe Saldaña’s movies have earned over $14 billion worldwide, so she’s still one of the highest-grossing actors in Hollywood.
How Much Money Will Avatar: The Way Of Water Make Before Leaving Theaters?
Avatar: The Way of Water took only six weeks to cross $2 billion, beating Avatar’s time to reach this mark by about a week. Top Gun: Maverick has earned another $500 million in the seven months since crossing the $1 billion mark in June 2022, so it’s possible that Avatar: The Way of Water‘s norm-defying box office success will pull off a similar number before the end of its theatrical run. With the Oscars coming up in March 2023 and plenty of buzz for the movie’s potential to bring home big awards, box office numbers could increase again through early March.
Before leaving theaters, which doesn’t seem to be anytime soon, Avatar: The Way of Water is on track to earn over $2.5 billion. This would mean surpassing the worldwide box office totals of Infinity War, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Titanic, putting it about $200 million behind Endgame to become the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. However, Titanic receiving a 25th anniversary re-release in February means the 1997 James Cameron film could earn enough to reclaim its title from Avatar 2. Titanic made $350 million worldwide in its 2012 re-release, so a similar performance would place it at over $2.5 billion at the end of its next run.
It’s unlikely that Avatar: The Way of Water will beat the 2009 original to earn over $3 billion before leaving theaters, but if it sees global re-releases over the next few years, the 2022 movie could eventually take the ultimate box office crown. Ultimately, the month of February will increase competition between the box office totals of James Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar 2, with the latter having a better chance of coming out on top. Whether it can go above and beyond is up in the air, but Avatar: The Way of Water is still predicted to finish its theatrical run with over $2.5 billion to become the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
Next: Avatar 2 Could Be One Of The Biggest Movies Of 2022 AND 2023
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