Here’s something you probably don’t want to hear if you’re a high-powered movie executive for Avatar producer 20th Century or their new corporate overlords at Disney: director James Cameron to calling his own sequel, The Way of Water, “the worst business case in movie history.” But that’s apparently what he did!
According to a report by Variety, Cameron said the long-in-development (and possibly long-anticipated?) Avatar sequel needs “to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.” That would mean The Way of Water needs to earn somewhere between Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ $2.07 billion box office and Cameron’s own Titanic, which currently sits at $2.2 billion.
The good news for those execs is that the first Avatar movie is the all-time, worldwide box office champ with an astonishing $2.9 billion to its name, so The Way of Water cracking the $2 billion mark is by no means impossible. The bad news is that planning on a movie making $2+ billion seems like the height of hubris, which is very much on brand for Cameron but surely makes those execs sit up bolt-upright in the middle of the night, screaming at the nightmare of all those dollar signs getting flushed down the toilet.
Avatar is so weird in that it was—is—the highest-grossing movie of all time, but left almost no pop culture imprint like the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. Does that mean people got their fill of blue cat people back in 2009, or have they been quietly slavering for more? We’ll see when The Way of Water finally comes into existence on December 16, but rest assured even if it bombs, Cameron seems deadset on making Avatar 3.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.