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It's Official: Avatar: The Way Of Water Is A $2 Billion Hit

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is continuing to make a big splash at the global box office.

The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry, shuttering cinemas and productions throughout the world. Since those early days of uncertainty, the box office has managed to rebound with stellar results, with 2021's global gross standing at $21.4 billion, a whopping 78% rise from 2020 (via Deadline). Films like "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "No Time To Die" helped bring audiences back into cinemas, but these pandemic-era behemoths weren't large enough to topple 2019's box office receipts, which brought in over $42 billion, per Variety.

While 2021 was a sign of improvement at the box office, the films of 2022 have all but confirmed that Hollywood (and box office purists) shouldn't have much to worry about.

The crown jewel of 2022 continues to be "Avatar: The Way of Water," James Cameron's long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time. Prior to the film's release, it was unclear just how successful Cameron's second outing to Pandora would be. While "Avatar" was certainly a novelty when it debuted in 2009, audiences have grown accustomed to CG-heavy flicks and recent years have seen the 3D trend diminish. But, in the immortal words of netizens: "Never bet against James Cameron."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" opened to a mighty $435 million worldwide gross in mid-December 2022 (via Vulture). Now, in its sixth weekend at the box office, Cameron's sci-fi adventure has crossed a major milestone.

James Cameron is the only director to have three $2 billion films

Disney confirmed on January 22 2023 (via The Hollywood Reporter) that "Avatar: The Way of Water" has officially crossed $2 billion at the global box office. The film currently holds a global cume of $2.024 billion, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of all time. It is also the only film from the pandemic era to have grossed $2 billion. 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" came close, wrapping up its run with $1.9 billion (via The Numbers).

THR estimates that the coming week will see the second Sully family flick emerge as the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time, dethroning "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Avengers: Infinity War." Internationally, the film's current total stands at $1.426 billion. Deadline confirms that the film's largest international markets include China, France, Germany, and India. The sixth-weekend also saw the film gross $600 million domestically. With the film standing at over $2 billion, "The Way of Water" marks James Cameron's third project to cross the milestone, behind 2009's "Avatar" and 1997's "Titanic," which is due for a re-release this February. Cameron now holds the title of being the only director to have three $2 billion grossers.

With such a flurry at the box office, "The Way of Water's" box office receipts all but confirm that we can expect a steady dose of "Avatar" for the next decade or so.

What's next for the Avatar franchise?

A month prior to "The Way of Water's" mid-December release, James Cameron expressed his (valid) concerns about the sequel underperforming at the box office to Total Film Magazine. The director suggested that, should "The Way of Water" fail to be a success, "Avatar 3" would release regardless as it's "already in the can." Of course, Cameron didn't want to end the franchise with the third film. "Movie 4 is a corker [...] I actually hope I get to make it [...] I really hope that we get to make 4 and 5 because it's one big story, ultimately," the maverick director told the outlet.

Shortly after "The Way of Water" proved itself at the box office, Cameron confirmed that he'd be moving ahead with the productions of future "Avatar" sequels. "It looks like just with the momentum that the film has now that we'll easily pass our break-even in the next few days, so it looks like I can't wiggle out of this — I'm gonna have to do these other sequels," the director said to Chris Wallace (via THR) in early January, well before "The Way of Water" grossed $2 billion.

What exactly is next for the franchise? Details are ultimately slim on "Avatar 3," which is set to debut in late December 2024. Cameron has confirmed that Lo'ak (Britain Dalton) will narrate the film and that the threequel will feature the debut of fire-centric Na'vi.