‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ surpasses that other James Cameron film’s box-office record

a blue man astride a giant flying fish-type creature soaring above water
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
(20th Century Studios)

“Avatar: The Way of Water” keeps soaring to new heights. James Cameron’s Pandora-set sequel has surpassed his 1997 film “Titanic” as the third highest-grossing film of all time at the worldwide box office.

In the 10th weekend following its release, the Oscar-nominated sci-fi epic — the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s “Avatar” — has so far grossed an estimated $2.24 billion globally. As of Sunday, “The Way of Water” has edged out “Titanic,” which has grossed about $2.243 billion over the years (including its recent 25th anniversary re-release), to take over the No. 3 spot in the list of highest-grossing films ever behind the original “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).

“The Way of Water” picks up the story over a decade after the first “Avatar” film. It follows former human Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Na’vi leader Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and their family. As Times film critic Justin Chang wrote in his review, “In ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ ... Cameron pulls you down so deep, and sets you so gently adrift, that at times you don’t feel like you’re watching a movie so much as floating in one.”


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According to a news release to mark the occasion, “The Way of Water” is also now the highest-grossing film of all time in a number of countries worldwide, including France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Mongolia, New Zealand and Colombia. “The Way of Water” has so far grossed $658 million domestically, making it the ninth highest-grossing film ever in North America.

“The Way of Water” reportedly cost more than $350 million to make, and Cameron has mentioned in interviews prior to its release that the film would need to be among the top-five highest-grossing films in history to be considered successful.