James Cameron's Avatar, the highest grossing film of all time, opened in 2009. Its first sequel was originally scheduled to be released five years later, but Cameron has never been one to rush. So 2014 became 2015, then 2016, 2017, and most recently 2018. Well, like clockwork, it now seems the four Avatar sequels will be delayed for a fifth time.
James Cameron's Avatar: Image: 20th Century Fox
Speaking to The Toronto Star, Cameron said the following when asked if 2018 was still the target for the release of Avatar 2:
Well, 2018 is not happening. We haven't announced a firm release date. What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases. So we're not making Avatar 2. We're making Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5. It's an epic undertaking. It's not unlike building the Three Gorges dam. (Laughs) So I know where I'm going to be for the next eight years of my life. It's not an unreasonable time frame if you think about it. It took us four-and-a-half years to make one movie and now we're making four. We're full tilt boogie right now. This is my day job and pretty soon we'll be 24-7. We're pretty well designed on all our creatures and sets. It's pretty exciting stuff. I wish I could share with the world. But we have to preserve a certain amount of showmanship and we're going to draw that curtain when the time is right.
We contacted 20th Century Fox for comment or clarification but had not received a response at time of writing.
Cameron's maths kind of makes sense. If it took them four and a half years to make one movie, it would take 18 years to make four, and it's only been eight years. Plus, Cameron then says it's going to take him eight years to finish the four films so that puts us at 16. By my calculations, that suggests we won't get Avatar 2 until 2020.
There's one problem with that, however. I totally get, respect and frankly admire the necessity to have all the scripts up to Cameron's high standards before shooting. This is a huge undertaking: Four movies shot at the same time that will probably end up costing a billion dollars. Those stories better be really good. Still, the four and a half years on the first movie was largely technological development. Performance capture, virtual cameras, all of that. Without that obstacle this time (at least that we know of), it really does feel frustrating for these films to be delayed yet again.
And yet, the first Avatar and Titanic were both delayed and scrutinised — and those turned out pretty well for everyone involved. It's hard not to trust Cameron, except when he gives you a release date.
Plus, if you want to know how the sequels ends, you can always go to Disney World.
The Avatar sequels were originally set for release Christmas 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023. There are a few years to be skipped in there so, maybe, you can lock part five in for 2023.