Director James Cameron plans to film future movies in New Zealand after early reviews of Avatar: The Way of Water

Director James Cameron is in such a good mood after early reviews and box office takings for Avatar: The Way of Water he says he wants to make all of his movies in Aotearoa from now on.

Filmed in Wellington, in conjunction with Wētā Digital, the movie cost $550 million to make and has already earned $880 million at the global box office in the first week - leaving it on track to crack more than $1.5 billion by New Year's Day. 

The cast of Avatar and their director have been taking The Way of Water to the world one blue carpet premiere at a time.  

Cameron knows exactly what's at stake with his Avatar empire, both professionally and personally.

He plans to deliver the next chapter in two years - with two more films to come after that - and make all of them in Aotearoa. 

That will be music to the ears of 1500 Kiwi-based crew who've been working on them.

"I couldn't be prouder of the New Zealand team. I think we had in the order of 15-1600 hundred people in New Zealand who had jobs on this thing - a lot of them at Wētā - also 500 ish on the live-action, on the set construction, the props, the subs, the crab suits, the ship, the water tank - which we shot up in Auckland," Cameron said. "I couldn't be prouder of them and what they accomplished, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

"For a couple of years there, we had a little bubble reality, where we could work freely and all of that sort of thing. But man it was such a joyful experience to work and create there and I plan to make all my future films in New Zealand as well there, ongoing, so good on ya Kiwis!" 

Watch entertainment editor Kate Rodger's full story above.