James Cameron Says Avatar: The Way Of Water’s Success Isn’t All About Money (Although It Probably Helps)

James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water" has proved profitable enough for the filmmaker to continue working on its sequel  — the money is good and it helps fuel his ambition for other "Avatar" films. The apparent skepticism surrounding whether audiences would still enjoy the adventures of the Na'vi has ceased as the film gets closer to the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office. The "Avatar" films are significant technical achievements, and its mega-sequel is one of the most expensive movies ever made. 

The filmmaker's immense passion for the world of Pandora has helped the story remain relevant, and with its sequel, its existing characters and viewers are introduced to a new side of the lush moon, where the way of water takes precedence over the way of the jungle. As Cameron continues to learn about the film's global triumph, the director has revealed he rarely compares his film's success with their ability to make money.

Theaters Over Streaming Services

Listen. "Avatar: The Way of Water" might have a three-hour-and-twelve-minute runtime and sometimes feel overstuffed — but it's a visual marvel. It's not a surprise the Metkayina Reevf village took years to get right. It's gorgeously realized, and the lore surrounding its people is complex and detailed ... it's impossible to look away from. It's stunning when you see the indigenous community's relationship with the nature around them. It's breathtaking, to say the least. "Avatar" is dominating the box office for all these reasons, and its ability to compel audiences and attract newer fans even a decade after it was released.

During the Official Digital Pre-Show for the Golden Globes, Cameron shared with Variety how the film's success stood as a reminder that the theatrical moviegoing experience will always hold importance over streaming services. The magic experienced in a cinema hall isn't something the era of streaming can replicate.

'Enough With The Streaming Already'

Cameron's sequel currently ranks as the seventh-highest-grossing film of all time — it is the fifth-biggest international release behind the movies "Avatar," "Avengers: Endgame," "Titanic" (which is getting a re-release, by the way), and "Avengers: Infinity War." Do the math quickly, and you'll know that means James Cameron helmed three of the top five international releases in history. That's a tremendous feat — but he doesn't think about the statistics that way. The legendary filmmaker considers the success to be a reminder of how moviegoers are done with streaming services: they want to go back to theaters around the world.

"I'm not thinking of it in those terms ... I'm thinking of it in the terms of we're going back to theaters around the world. They're even going back to theaters in China where they're having this big COVID surge. We're saying as a society, 'We need this! We need to go to theaters.' Enough with the streaming already! I'm tired of sitting on my a**."

The "Titanic" director's sentiments are understandable because after being subjected to cinema only through streaming services for the last few years, it's an understatement to say that the theater experience has been missed. The theatrical release vs streaming debate will always live on, anyway. Streaming has made movies accessible to all, but you have to agree with Cameron too. 

Regardless of what medium you prefer, there's nothing quite like being seated with hundred strangers in a room and watching the lights go out — only to find yourself so connected to each other when they're turned on again. That's a power only theaters can hold.

Read this next: What These Avatar Scenes Look Like Without CGI

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