Zoe Saldana Stars In the Record Breaking Movie On Top Of The Streaming World

Zoe Saldana's Avatar: The Way of Water recently landed on Disney+, where it's the #1 streamed movie.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

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Zoe Saldana in Avatar: The Way of Water

The long-anticipated Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water finally made its way to the streaming world on Wednesday and debuted at number one on Disney+, according to Flix Patrol. Not only is the Zoe Saldana-led feature a critically acclaimed sequel that was nominated for four Academy Awards and won one, but it is one of the most successful films of all time, coming in as the third highest-grossing film ever, following the first Avatar and another Saldana-involved franchise, Avengers: Endgame, according to Box Office Mojo.

Zoe Saldana stars in the retelling of a Pochohanats story, as Neytiri, a spirited warrior, healer, mother, and wife to human-turned-Na’vi, Jake (played by Sam Worthington). The Way of Water follows Jake and Neytiri and their newly formed family as they face an old threat that has returned to finish what had been started in the first film. James Cameron wrote and directed the feature, which also stars Sigourney Weaver as a new character different from whom she played in the first movie, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Eddie Falco, Brendan Cowell, and one of New Zealand’s funniest guys, Jemaine Clement.

After waiting 13 years for a sequel, Cameron’s sci-fi epic, Avatar: The Way of Water could have been an epic failure if the concept and special effects that Cameron is known for no longer resonated with audiences. Luckily, in a spectacular triumph, Cameron’s long-awaited sequel left audiences awe-struck and completely shattered box office records. Just like the first film, The Way of Water was considered a visual marvel, which solidified its place as the highest-grossing film of 2022 and one of the highest-grossing films of all time, cementing Zoe Saldana and the rest of the cast and crew in history along with it.

Directed and produced by Cameron himself, Avatar: The Way of Water takes viewers back to the breathtaking world of Pandora, inhabited by the blue-skinned humanoid Na’vi, expertly portrayed by Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, and the rest. While there were many returning actors from the first feature, Sigourney Weaver’s comeback was probably the most interesting considering that not only did the Alien actress return to play a different character, but she portrayed a role of a teenage girl, despite being in her 70s during filming.

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Sigourney Weaver as Kiri

Cameron’s vision for the Avatar sequels dates back to 2006, when he expressed his desire to continue the story if the first film (starring Zoe Saldana, Weaver, and Worthington) proved successful. In 2010, following the massive triumph of Avatar at the box office, Cameron officially announced the first two sequels, with an initial target release for 2014. However, the ambitious plan expanded to include a total of five Avatar films, accompanied by the need to develop groundbreaking underwater performance capture technology.

These factors contributed to significant delays, allowing the crew more time to focus on writing, preproduction, and the awe-inspiring visual effects.

Meanwhile, while the Avatar franchise took its time figuring out how to develop the technology to create the vision Cameron had in his mind, Zoe Saldana didn’t hesitate before jumping into the second most successful franchise of all time. While The Way of Water was originally supposed to be released in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was released instead, where Saldana played the fan-favorite green alien, Gamora, who would go on to be in a total of five Marvel films.

After Cameron and his team finally figured out how to create mo-cap technology that worked underwater, the Avatar director quickly gathered Zoe Saldana and the rest of the cast and crew to make up for lost time. The filming process for The Way of Water was scheduled simultaneously with the third film in the series and began in August 2017 in Manhattan Beach, California. Subsequently, the production relocated to Wellington, New Zealand, in September 2017, with shooting concluding in late September 2020 after three years of dedicated work. 

With an estimated budget ranging between $350 million and $460 million, Avatar: The Way of Water stands as one of the most expensive films ever made.

After enduring several delays in the release schedule, Avatar: The Way of Water finally made its world premiere in London on December 6, 2022. Despite the mixed reception from critics, audiences worldwide flocked to theaters to see Zoe Saldana in blue once again, propelling The Way of Water to immense success. The film shattered numerous box office records, grossing an astounding $2.320 billion worldwide.

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In addition to its commercial triumph, Avatar: The Way of Water received industry recognition, garnering four nominations at the 95th Academy Awards. Though Zoe Saldana and the rest of the actors were not nominated for an Oscar, the film did receive a coveted nomination for Best Picture. Ultimately, the film secured the prestigious award for Best Visual Effects, further cementing its place in cinema history.

The success of Avatar: The Way of Water has only fueled the excitement for the remaining sequels, all of which will include Zoe Saldana, Jake Worthington, and Sigourney Weaver, with the next installment slated for release on December 20, 2024. Fans can hardly wait to embark on further adventures in the mesmerizing world of Pandora.