Disney's highly anticipated Avatar sequel "The Way of Water" has surpassed $2 billion in global box office sales, according to Comscore, clearing director James Cameron's self-imposed benchmark to declare the film profitable.
Why it matters: Investors were initially skeptical that the film would perform as well as the original, which hit the $2 billion mark at the end of January 2010 — six weeks after its debut. But the sequel is now pacing ahead of the first title and is on track to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Zoom out: "The Way of Water" has become only the sixth movie in history to pass $2 billion in global ticket sales and will soon overtake "Avengers: Infinity War" ($2.05 billion), "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($2.07 billion) and Cameron's "Titanic" ($2.1 billion) to become the third-highest grossing movie ever.
Between the lines: Whether "The Way of Water" will ultimately surpass the original is unclear.
Be smart: The film's success also means that the franchise is likely to live on past its second installation.
By the numbers: "The Way of Water" and the original "Avatar" both debuted on the third weekend in December in 2009 and 2022, respectively.
Yes, but: What should have added to the film's success was its availability in China, which granted "The Way of Water" permission to be released in the country early enough to allow distributors to do some marketing in the region.
The big picture: A lot is riding on the success of "The Way of Water" as an indicator of the overall health of the box office in wake of the pandemic-driven shift to streaming.
What's next: Along with "The Way of Water," strong performances from horror film "M3GAN" and "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" has given the theater industry optimism that 2023 will be better than last year.