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Sounds like James Cameron will get to see his 'Avatar' pentology through to the end after all

The Way of Water is now the tenth highest-grossing movie in box office history.

By Josh Weiss
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Several months ago, James Cameron stated that if The Way of Water bombed at the box office, he was prepared to end his ambitious Avatar franchise after three movies instead of the planned five. The movie's ticket sales, Cameron later explained, would need to be record-breaking if the Disney-owned 20th Century Studios wanted any chance of breaking even.

Turns out the boundary-pushing filmmaker had nothing to worry about. While it's been less than a month since Cameron's return to the lush jungle moon of Pandora hit theaters, the long-awaited sequel has already become the tenth-highest grossing project in Hollywood history, surpassing both Furious 7 and Top Gun: Maverick with just over $1.5 billion globally. As Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE: "James Cameron set a very high bar and then leapt over it."

“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, actually. So it looks like I can’t wiggle out of this, I’m gonna have to do these other these other sequels,” Cameron said during an appearance on the most recent episode of HBO's Who's Talking to Chris Wallace? (via HBO Max). "I kind of know what I'm going to be doing for the next six or seven years ... The point is that we're gonna be okay and I'm sure that we'll have a discussion soon with the top folks at Disney about the game plan going forward for Avatar 3, which is already in the can. We've already captured and photographed the whole film, so we're in that kind of extended post-production that takes us a couple years to do all that CG magic after the fact."

RELATED: As 'Avatar 2' passes 'F7' in all-time box office, it's a great time to revisit the 'Furious' sequel

The third movie — which will reportedly introduce a fire-based Na'avi tribe known as the "Ash People" — is currently scheduled for a wide theatrical release on Dec. 20, 2024. The screenplays devoted to Avatars 4 and 5 are completed, with some footage already captured for the former. Whether or not Cameron ends up helming the full pentology remains to be seen. 

"I think we've begun a franchise at this point," he added. "I don't think the first film started a franchise because we were out of the marketplace for too long. But I think we can safely say that we've begun a saga that can now play out over multiple films, which was our original goal ... It's all mapped out. It's kind of like having a set of four novels to adapt, if you want to think of it that way. But they're actually shooting scripts, so it's really the painstaking and time-consuming process of actually going through the production."

"This was no small feat, but Cameron, as in all facets of his fabled career, makes the impossible look effortless and marked a rare example of a filmmaker publicly coming to terms with the realities of the business side of the industry," Dergarabedian concludes. "By acknowledging the necessity for massive box office results to justify further investment in his long-term Avatar plan, the director looked like both a team player and a responsible business partner to the studio, while shrewdly and confidently knowing all along that his full vision for Avatar would be a fait accompli. Now that's a true movie mogul!"

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

Looking for more blockbusters that will make your spirit soar? NOPE, Beast, and Minions: The Rise of Gru are all streaming on Peacock alongside plenty of other classics.