James Cameron Responds To Matt Damon Revealing He Declined 10% Of Avatar Earnings

A few years ago, Matt Damon dropped a major bombshell about his career: he turned down Avatar. Ahead of the original 2009 movie going on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time, James Cameron offered the actor a spot along with 10% of its earnings. When Damon declined, he unknowingly passed on a quarter of a billion dollars, which is effectively more than any actor in history. As Cameron’s Avatar sequel hits theaters, the filmmaker has responded to the whole thing. 

When James Cameron was asked if he’s talked to Matt Damon lately, he burst into a chuckle. Then, he said this: 

He’s beating himself up over this. And I really think you know, ‘Matt you’re kind of like one of the biggest movie stars in the world, get over it.’ But he had to do another Bourne film which was on his runway and there was nothing we could do about that. So he had to regretfully decline.

That’s right. Matt Damon is doing just fine even though he effectively missed out on $250 million. During an interview with BBC Radio, James Cameron spoke to the actor having to decline due to his commitment to the Bourne movies. Besides, how could he have possibly known how massive Avatar was going to be, except for well… James Cameron, the man behind the Terminator movies and Titanic

Cameron was then asked whether he would consider Matt Damon now for a role in an Avatar sequel, perhaps with a cameo to nod to the wild Hollywood “what if.” In the filmmaker’s words: 

Must do it, we have to do it so the world is in equilibrium again. But he doesn’t get 10%, fuck that.

I guess we’ll have to look out for Matt Damon in the next Avatar films, though nothing has changed in regards to him losing out on the biggest payday an actor has ever been offered. When Damon disclosed his missed Avatar opportunity, he shared John Krasinski’s wise response to the whole thing. He reportedly comforted Damon by saying “nothing would be different” in his life except they would both be conversing in space. And, of course, there’s the “mo’ money, mo’ problems” of it all.  

When Avatar became the highest-grossing movie of all time, it actually de-seated Cameron’s other big hit, Titanic. Marvel's Avengers: Endgame did unseat it back in 2019, until a spontaneous decision led to Avatar reclaiming its No. 1 spot again when it was re-released in 2021. Avatar’s massive number that places it at the top of any other movie in history is $2.922 billion worldwide. 

Looking at the Avatar sequel, The Way of Water made a reported $17 million opening night and is on its way to a projected $170 million debut weekend in domestic markets. As you experience Pandora this weekend, check out CinemaBlend’s own Avatar 2 interview with James Cameron

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.