The expectations of the franchise after 
Avatar: The Way of Water hint that
James Cameron will finally break
Steven Spielberg’s impressive box office record for directors. While James Cameron continues to hold the record for the highest-grossing movie at the box office with 2009’s
Avatar, the director still falls behind in a few key categories, with Steven Spielberg reliably holding the crown for these achievements. However, while Cameron still has a long way to go, the
Avatar 2 director’s future projects suggest he could replace Spielberg as the highest-grossing director of all time.,Steven Spielberg reigning as the highest-grossing director at the box office isn’t all that surprising, as the filmmaker has been making smash hits and leading franchises since 1975’s
Jaws. Cameron, on the other hand, is one of the only directors that it’s unwise to bet against at the box office, no matter what film he brings to the table. However, while Steven Spielberg has directed over 30 full-feature films over the last five decades, James Cameron has only helmed eleven movies since 1982, two of which are documentaries. Nonetheless, Cameron and Spielberg both hold positions in the top five highest-grossing directors at the box office.,Related: Avatar Sequels Mean James Cameron Could Equal A Huge Spielberg Record,While Steven Spielberg boasts a massive filmography of full features that he’s been behind the camera for, James Cameron is taking a step ahead by already being signed onto four major upcoming movies. Spielberg, on the other hand, is so far only set to direct one upcoming 2023 movie that isn’t expected to smash records at the box office. Following James Cameron’s long-awaited December 2022 movie
Avatar: The Way of Water, the director will helm at least three more sequels with
Avatar 3 in 2024,
Avatar 4 in 2026, and
Avatar 5 in 2028. If
Avatar: The Way Of Water is as successful at the box office as it’s predicted to be, James Cameron may end up surpassing Spielberg’s record as the highest-grossing director of all time.,James Cameron’s debut feature, 1982’s
Piranha II: The Spawning, was an indie horror that was critically panned and bombed at the box office, but this wouldn’t keep the director down for long. Cameron’s second feature film was none other than the classic sci-fi action film
The Terminator, which brought in $78.3 million on a $6.4 million budget. The movie remained number one at the box office for two weeks in 1984, which was just the beginning of Cameron’s box office success. Two years later, Cameron directed
Aliens, the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-fi horror film
Alien. Now regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time,
Aliens’ worldwide box office gross is estimated to be $183.3 million, which made it the third-highest-grossing movie of 1986 after
Top Gun and
Crocodile Dundee. While Cameron’s next film,
The Abyss, wasn’t nearly as successful with only a $90 million box office haul, it was the director’s follow-up that truly exposed his incredible box office power.,In July 1991, James Cameron’s
Terminator 2: Judgment Day arrived in theaters as a smash hit, with its box office earnings totaling approximately $520.9 million. The movie’s opening weekend was so successful that it became the second-highest opening five-day total after
Batman (1989).
Terminator 2 then became the highest-grossing film of 1991 and the third-highest-grossing film of all time behind
Star Wars and Spielberg’s
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Cameron’s follow-up,
True Lies, also saw massive success with $378.9 million at the box office. Then, of course, came
Titanic. The 1997 epic romance broke records beyond expectation, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time with box office earnings of $1.843 billion in its initial theatrical run; subsequent re-releases would bring this total to $2.202 billion. Cameron’s next film broke his own box office record, as 2009’s
Avatar still remains the highest-grossing film of all time with $2.847 billion. Not only has Cameron twice set the record for highest-grossing film in history, but he still holds the record today for the number one and three slots of highest-earning movies. The only film that stands between
Avatar and
Titanic’s box office earnings is 2019’s
Avengers: Endgame, which briefly unseated
Avatar as the highest-grossing film before Cameron’s movie reclaimed the title in 2021.,While James Cameron has set plenty of box office records himself, he still falls short with one of the most impressive achievements: The highest-grossing film director of all time. This title belongs to the one and only Steven Spielberg, whose movies have grossed a total of $10.6 billion (and counting). Not only is Steven Spielberg the highest-earning director in history, but none of his competing filmmakers are even close. The second-highest-earning directors are the Russo brothers, who boast a total of $6.84 billion on account of their
Captain America and
Avengers MCU movies. Following the director team are Peter Jackson ($6.53 billion) and Michael Bay ($6.44 billion), with James Cameron standing as the fifth-highest-grossing movie director with $6.29 billion in box office earnings. While the four runner-ups are all within a few hundred million dollars of each other, Spielberg holds a sizable lead of nearly $4 billion between himself and the Russos – nearly 1.5 times more than their total earnings.,Related: Why James Cameron’s Avatar Is So Divisive (Despite Its Box Office Success),While Spielberg may have seemed unstoppable had he stayed on as the director of 2023’s
Indiana Jones 5, the filmmaker doesn’t have too many anticipated projects on his list at the time of writing. As such, James Cameron is in the perfect place to use his momentum with Disney’s 
Avatar franchise plans to reasonably surpass Spielberg by the end of the decade. All of this depends on both the notion that Spielberg isn’t signed on for any major projects and the initial success of
Avatar: The Way of Water. If
Avatar 2 proves to make at least $1 billion (less than half of its predecessor’s earnings), then James Cameron is on track for his follow-ups to perform similarly.,Considering
Avatar (2009) continues to hold the record for the highest-grossing film at $2.85 billion, James Cameron’s total box office earnings are expected to skyrocket throughout the next decade with four upcoming sequels to the hit movie. If
Avatar: The Way of Water and its three planned sequels each make at least $1 billion, Cameron will be neck-and-neck with Steven Spielberg’s total of $10.6 billion. However, this is also under the assumption that Spielberg doesn’t show up with any billion-dollar movies himself before 2028. Spielberg’s highest-grossing movie of all time is 1993’s
Jurassic Park, which earned $1.03 billion at the box office. This is still only half of what James Cameron’s first
Avatar brought in, suggesting it’s highly unlikely that Spielberg will continue to stay billions of dollars ahead of Cameron over the next few years.,It’s unwise to bet against James Cameron at the box office, so if
Avatar 2 and its sequels are as successful as both the filmmaker and Disney expect them to be, the gap between Cameron and Spielberg for highest-grossing director of all time will be much smaller. As of writing, Cameron needs $4.4 billion in order to surpass Steven Spielberg, which at first glance seems nearly impossible – that is, until realizing how much money
Avatar has continued to earn internationally since 2009. Ahead of
Avatar: The Way of Water’s December 2022 premiere, James Cameron will be re-releasing
Avatar, which is predicted to see the 2009 movie break yet another box office record if it surpasses a $3 billion total. While Steven Spielberg is attached to numerous upcoming films as a producer, the success of these projects won’t impact his directorial box office total, which makes James Cameron’s odds of beating his record much higher. With the predicted successes of
Avatar: The Way of Water and its sequels,
James Cameron could very well surpass
Steven Spielberg as the highest-grossing movie director of all time by 2028.,Next: Avatar 2 Won’t Beat Endgame’s Box Office, But Could It Beat No Way Home?