What’s the budget for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ – and is it the most expensive movie ever made?

The highly anticipated second Avatar movie, now officially titled Avatar: The Way Of Waterhas generated a lot of hype across the internet. People are keen to see how this movie builds on the foundation laid by 2009’s Avatar. However, this hype has got people wondering about the film’s budget. 

What is Avatar: The Way Of Water about?

Image via 20th Century Studios

In its coverage of the Avatar 2 presentation at CinemaCon, Deadline quoted Jon Landau saying, “At the center of each of the four sequels will be the Sully family…Each story will be a stand-alone, and each will come to its own conclusion.”

He is also quoted as saying there will be a “fulfilling resolution to each film, but when looked at as a whole the journey across all four will create a larger epic saga.”

Per Deadline, the movie’s logline describes Sully’s newfound life on Pandora, and how it has been uprooted by a “familiar threat”. 

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.

How much did Avatar: The Way Of Water cost to make? 

kate winslet avatar 2

The budget for Avatar: The Way Of Water has been a popular talking point. In 2017, the Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox, Lachlan Murdoch, talked about the film’s budget at Variety’s Dealmakers Breakfast. 

During this breakfast, Murdoch said that the Avatar sequels had a “collective budget expected to surpass $1 billion” before saying that “these will be the most expensive movies of all time.”

This would mean that each movie costs $250 million to make if all the films cost roughly the same amount. 

And while this isn’t totally confirmed, it is the number that many outlets, including Collider, are running with. 

Is Avatar: The Way Of Water the most expensive movie ever? 


While $250 million is a massive amount of money, in this era of ballooning Hollywood costs, it doesn’t go as far as you think. On top of this, there can be discrepancies when discussing film budgets. Numbers can include or omit different production elements. Plus, the nature of inflation means that a million dollars in 2009 aren’t economically equal to a million dollars today. 

Currently, the original Avatar holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive film ever produced, with an official budget of $425 million. However, this number is often heavily debated. As people argue if the film’s marketing budget and the cost of developing the 3D cameras and VFX equipment should be included with the budget for the movie or if this is an unrelated expense. 

However, if you use the number Fox gave for the film in 2009, a much smaller $237 million, Avatar loses out on the top spot. In fact, with this number, Avatar is only the 22nd most expensive film ever. With 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides taking the top spot with a $379 million budget. 

Avatar: The Way Of Water will not be the most expensive film ever made if the current figures are correct. However, this presumes that the original estimates were accurate, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause costs to increase. We won’t know for sure until official financial filings are made. 

Avatar: The Way of Water is out Dec. 16.