Avatar: The Way Of Water continues its climb up the box office league tables. One of the issues pointed to by those expecting troubled… ahem… waters was the budget, rumored to be $350 million or more. Some people said $460 million.
As with the first movie lots of that big budget, however big it was, went towards building the tools and tech required to make the film. A lot of those costs won’t be there as the sequels roll out. With the third already mostly shot, and the fourth partially shot, now it is likely the fourth and fifth movies are to be greenlit they will all come in significantly cheaper than Avatar: The Way Of Water.
Cameron himself spoke about this on Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett’s Smartless podcast:
“If we develop something for Avatar – usually that’s in the form of an asset like a creature or a setting – that exists digitally. Sits on the server. [The studio] can reap the benefit of not having to recreate that over time. So the movies have a kind of economy of scale over the greater arc. That’s part of the argument for doing three or four films kind of back-to-back.”
It’s not just tech and digital assets for Avatar. He also said that now the tech exists, it is available to Disney, 20th Century Studios and Weta Digital.
It is also likely that the COVID delay costs were entirely loaded into the budget for the first instalment, so that is carrying the hit on the balance sheet from overseas shooting in New Zealand that was halted for a significant period.