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'Avatar 2' is so expensive it has to be one of the biggest box office hits in history just to break even

The Avatar sequel is so expensive, it needs a spot on the all-time box office list just to break even.

By Matthew Jackson
(L-R): Jake Sully and Neteyam in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER.

James Cameron makes big movies, and he's been making big movies for quite some time. But expectations for Cameron's epics have perhaps never been higher than they are with Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to his 2009 megahit. Fans want The Way of Water to be good, of course, but then there are those box office expectations, which according to Cameron, are quite possibly higher than they've been at any other point in his entire career.

In a new interview with GQ about his return to the big-screen with The Way of Water, his first narrative feature as director since Avatar in 2009, Cameron called his new film "the worst business case in movie history" because the sheer cost of mounting the production. Cameron wouldn't specify his actual final budget for the film, but according to Variety there are reports that the production budget is in the $250 million range, not counting all the money Disney is pouring into promoting the film. 

RELATED: James Cameron breaks down the big difference between the Avatar and Star Wars universes

That means, according to Cameron, that “you have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”

So, how much does The Way of Water have to make to hit that threshold. Two billion dollars and then some, enough to blow past at least Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Infinity War on the all-time list, and maybe past Cameron's own blockbuster Titanic. But Cameron knows a thing or two about all-time box office champions. He's held the top spot with not one, but two different films, including Titanic and the first Avatar, which recently overtook Avengers: Endgame to reclaim the top of the list after a re-release. If anyone can step up to meet those very high standards, it's him. 

“I like difficult,” Cameron said. “I’m attracted by difficult. Difficult is a f*****g magnet for me. I go straight to difficult. And I think it probably goes back to this idea that there are lots of smart, really gifted, really talented filmmakers out there that just can’t do the difficult stuff. So that gives me a tactical edge to do something nobody else has ever seen, because the really gifted people don’t f*****g want to do it.”

Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters Dec. 16. 

Looking for more ambitious genre films? Check out Jordan Peele's NOPE, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Warcraft and more streaming now on Peacock.