Avatar: The Way of Water is the highest grossing movie of 2022 – beating Top Gun: Maverick

Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar: The Way of Water has overtaken Top Gun: Maverick to become the highest grossing release of 2022 and the 12th biggest movie ever. 

The film is James Cameron's follow-up to 2009's Avatar, itself the highest grossing movie of all time, and picks up several years after the events of that movie, with Jake and Neytiri now parents. Once again, though, the villainous RDA threatens their peaceful existence on Pandora. 

Per Deadline (opens in new tab), Avatar 2 has topped $1.5 billion worldwide (once January 4's numbers are accounted for), which just clears Maverick's $1.489 billion. The Way of Water reportedly needed to make $1.4 billion to break even, which means the film has hit that milestone. 

The Avatar sequel debuted to wildly mixed reviews and an opening weekend below predictions, but clearly momentum has been on the film's side. The Way of Water has no major blockbuster competition until Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania releases on February 17, too, so there's still plenty of time for the film to draw in movie-goers. 

The film is just one of many sequels planned for the franchise – there will be five Avatar movies in total. Cameron has teased that Avatar 3 will feature a new type of Na'vi. "The fire will be represented by the 'Ash People.' I want to show the Na'vi from another angle because, so far, I have only shown their good sides," he revealed. "In the early films, there are very negative human examples and very positive Na'vi examples. In Avatar 3, we will do the opposite. We will also explore new worlds, while continuing the story of the main characters. I can say that the last parts will be the best. The others were an introduction, a way to set the table before serving the meal. But, obviously, everything will depend on how Avatar 2 is received, if it finds its audience." 

With The Way of Water's impressive box office, we can assume the franchise will continue full steam ahead. 

The Way of Water is in theaters now. If you're all caught up, check out our spoilery breakdown of the Avatar 2 ending. You can also fill out your watchlist with our guide to all the upcoming major movie release dates

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.