Avatar 2 may still make its 2021 release date despite delays, James Cameron says. Released in 2009, the original Avatar represented a huge leap forward for movie technology, particularly in the realms of performance-capture and 3D. The film’s sci-fi story proved compelling enough to propel the movie to a then-record worldwide box office take of $2.79 billion.
The massive success of Avatar may have seemed like a sign that a franchise was on the way, but for some reason the movie world soon cooled on Cameron’s universe and Cameron himself was in no hurry to push out any sequels. But everything changed in 2017 when Cameron announced he was working on not just one Avatar sequel but four, with the four movies expected to top the $1 billion mark in total budget. Indeed, the first of the four sequels was set to be delivered in 2020 until Disney, who acquired the Avatar universe in the Fox merger, decided to move the release to avoid conflict with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The future of Avatar 2 then became even more uncertain when, like everything else in Hollywood, the production was hit with delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite those delays, Cameron himself recently told Empire that there’s still a chance Avatar 2 could make its planned release date. Speaking from home quarantine in Malibu, Cameron talked about getting back to New Zealand to continue physical shooting work on the massive sequels and expressed optimism about the situation:
“On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing. So there's a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still do it. So that's good news. We've got everybody – everybody at Weta Digital and Lightstorm – working from home to the extent that that is possible. But my work is on the stage doing the virtual cameras and so on, so I can do a bit of editing, but it's not great for me.”
Recently, fans were given a taste of just how technologically advanced the Avatar 2 shoot really is as images were shared of the cameras being used to capture the movie’s underwater action. Indeed, Cameron knows a lot about filming on and under the water after The Abyss and Titanic, but Avatar 2 sees him pushing things even farther with new underwater performance-capture technology. A large part of Avatar 2 reportedly takes place in a new underwater kingdom on the moon Pandora, with Kate Winslet jumping back into the deep alongside Cameron after her harrowing experience filming Titanic with the director over two decades ago.
It remains to be seen just what Cameron has in store for audiences with his newest Avatar film and its underwater setting, but knowing the filmmaker, the results will be visually stunning. For those who desperately long for a return to Pandora, it’s certainly great to hear that Cameron is optimistic about getting back to work in New Zealand and keeping things on track for the promised release date. Of course, Cameron has not one but four movies to keep on the rails, which sounds like a daunting task indeed. Barring any further setbacks, natural or otherwise, Cameron should get to deliver at least some of his planned four-film epic. How much of that epic actually makes it to screens of course depends on whether audiences embrace Avatar 2.
Key Release Dates
- Avatar 2 (2021)Release Date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 3 (2023)Release Date: Dec 22, 2023
- Avatar 4 (2025)Release Date: Dec 19, 2025
- Avatar 5 (2027)Release Date: Dec 17, 2027