The third and final trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water is finally out.
The film director recently opened up to GQ, saying the much-anticipated avatar sequel was “damn” expensive to make and “it was the worst business case in movie history.”
“You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history,” Cameron said of returning profit on the film. “That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
The original avatar film was released in 2009 and according to IMDB Pro, it had a budget of $237 million and could gross $2.9 billion worldwide – the highest-grossing film of all time. To for The way of the water to achieve what Cameron hopes for, it would have to catch up Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens which currently ranks #4 with $2.69 billion.
While describing the project, Cameron called it “the worst business case in movie history”. When asked what it would take for the film to be profitable, the director responded: “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
However, that’s what convinced Cameron to go through with this: “I’m attracted by difficult. Difficult is a fucking 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 fucking want to do it.”
For Avatar 2 to be profitable, it’ll need to make at least $2 billion at the worldwide box office, sizing up to the likes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Infinity War.
Now, as far as we know, Avatar 2 had a budget of $250 million before marketing costs. However, Cameron’s remarks seem to place it higher – way higher, in fact. He’s yet to provide a hard number, but it appears The Way of Water may be the most expensive movie of all time.
James Cameron remains one of the film industry’s biggest technological innovators and a titan-level director that is obsessed with pushing the medium to its limits. What makes him truly great as a populist filmmaker is that he always knows how to properly sell a humane story that makes full use of that ambitious appetite for cutting-edge technological prowess.
His career is long and critically acclaimed, but for my money, there’s no better embodiment of Cameron’s wacky and imaginative vision for the future of cinema than his 2009 blockbuster, “Avatar.” It went on to make $2.7 billion in the box office, whisking viewers away into the world of Pandora through IMAX 3D screens and the finest blend of live-action and CG animation that clearly stands the test of time — as this year’s re-release box office numbers prove.
This December, Cameron finally makes his return to the big screen with a sequel that has been over a decade in the making, “Avatar: The Way of Water.” With a runtime that’s over three hours long, this cinematic epic will bring audiences back into the world of Pandora and also measure interest for three other sequels that Cameron wishes to make and finalize his overarching story of humankind’s relationship with the Na’vi people.
Interestingly, even though Cameron is one of our most esteemed living filmmakers, his chances of franchising “Avatar” to his grand vision became more of a gamble than one would expect. This week, GQ profiled James Cameron and asked him about his return to the big screen and the long, complex road to creating “Avatar: The Way of Water,” in which he describes his latest film as “the worst business case in movie history.”
Production started on “Avatar: The Way of Water” back in 2013. Cameron, the perfectionist he is, knew that an “Avatar” sequel would require starting everything from scratch. The title of the sequel is not just a flashy catchphrase — water is a large part of this film’s production and a huge motif of the story. Though Pandora is mainly portrayed in detailed CG animation, Cameron wanted to authentically mo-cap his actors’ scenes underwater, returning to some concepts he established in “The Abyss” with brand new context. The GQ profile runs through all the troubles Cameron had developing new AI systems and cameras needed to accomplish his vision:
“Nothing would work the first time Cameron and the production tried it. Or the second. Or usually the third. One day in Wellington, New Zealand, where Cameron was finishing the film, he showed me a single effects shot, numbered 405. ‘That means there’s been 405 versions of this before it gets to me,’ he said. Cameron has been working on the movie since 2013; it was due out years ago. In September, he still wasn’t done.”
The years of scrapped concepts and experimentations have inflated the budget of “The Way of Water” to an alarming degree. When asked just how expensive his sequel’s budget was, Cameron coyly answered “Very f***ing,” going on to describe the film as “the worst business case in movie history.” Cameron claims the minimum goal of profitability for his “Avatar” sequel is at a drastic level. “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history,” he explained. “That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
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