But that doesn't worry James Cameron as we continue to wait for Avatar 2. If anything, it's given him hope that this seemingly endless quest will be worth it. "Avengers: Endgame is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theatres," he told Deadline.
"The thing that scared me most about making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something."
Cameron has always had a plan to return to the world of Pandora – it's just one that is taking an awfully long time. We're apparently getting FOUR sequels to his CG smash hit that will see the series run until 2027.
But let's not get too ahead of ourselves and just focus on Avatar 2 for now. What do we know about the sequel?
Avatar 2 release date: Someday, somehow
To cut a long story short, Avatar 2 is finally going to be released (apparently) on December 17, 2021, having been pushed back from December 2020. As mentioned before, a new Avatar movie will follow every other year all the way until Avatar 5 on December 17, 2027. Well, that's the plan anyway.
If you want the full story of the sequel's long and drawn-out journey to the screen, here goes. Looking back on it, it seems almost absurd that Avatar 2 was scheduled for release in December 2014, and Avatar 3 was scheduled for December 2015.
Now scheduled to land on Pandora December 17, 2021 pic.twitter.com/d21QmCwiHC— Avatar (@officialavatar) May 7, 2019
In April 2016 – yes, that long ago – filming was meant to start on Avatar 2. But April came and went, and filming never got underway. In January the following year, it was announced that work on the motion capture element of the film would start by August 2017, but it actually began in September.
However, a fourth Avatar movie was announced, which pushed the whole lot back to December 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively. But it's *checks calendar* 2020 and we still haven't gotten a sequel, let alone three.
All of the sequels were pushed back again, with Avatar 2 coming out in December 2017 (and the rest in 2018, and 2019 presumably). James Cameron blamed the "very involved" writing process for the delays.
Through it all, Cameron has been completely chilled out about any delays. "It was a seven-year gap between The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, seven-year gap between Alien and Aliens," he said.
Luckily for Cameron, the Disney-Fox takeover hasn't hit the Avatar sequel the way it has hit other movies. According to Variety, production on Avatar 2 will continue as planned, and in November 2018, motion capture filming had finished.
But that's just a small part of the entire movie as, like with the first movie, there's a lot of digital work to be done.
James Cameron took a (very rare) break from filming on the performance capture stage to record a message to Avatar fans!— Avatar (@officialavatar) November 13, 2018
Watch for a progress update on the sequels and a brand new trailer for his long-time passion project, Alita: Battle Angel. #AvatarFamily @AlitaMovie pic.twitter.com/Vz6bqp73DA
Barring any further delays, Avatar 2 will arrive in cinemas a full 12 years after the original, so Cameron better hope it's worth the wait.
Avatar sequel titles: Quite the mouthful?
While we've been calling them Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and so on, there hasn't been any official confirmation on what they will be called.
However, the BBC reported that the films could be called Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa – which Cameron later confirmed are potential titles, but could be subject to change.
Avatar 2 cast: Who's back?
The core cast of the original Avatar are all on contract, so Cameron's stars will be back in when it finally hits.
Zoe Saldana, who will reprise the role of the Na'vi princess Neytiri, had only just appeared in the Star Trek reboot when she starred in the 2009 original movie, and thanks to projects like Guardians of the Galaxy, she has become the biggest new star to come out of Avatar – as well as cornering the market for playing aliens of various hues.
Sam Worthington will also return as the human-turned-Na'vi Jake Sully, and it's fair to say that his success hasn't mirrored Saldana's, poor chap.
Sci-fi goddess Sigourney Weaver and bad guy Stephen Lang will be back too, despite the fact that both their characters died in the first film. As for Lang's character, in a statement James Cameron said: "Steven was so memorable in the first film, we’re privileged to have him back. I'm not going to say exactly HOW we're bringing him back, but it's a science fiction story, after all.
"His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who's also become a good friend."
Weaver says that she will be a wholly new character, which, if true, would be a choice as strange as giving the Na'vi those weird tail things that let them plug into other animals. So we guess there's a sort of precedent, at least.
She's been learning to free dive in preparation for the movie. "It's really the most fun I've had in a long time," Weaver told Yahoo. "I just wish the movies were coming out sooner, because I feel like the world needs more Avatar as soon as possible."
CCH Pounder will also reprise her role Neytiri's mum Mo'at, and Matt Gerald is back as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet.
We are thrilled to share that Edie Falco is joining the #AvatarFamily as General Ardmore, the Commander in charge of the RDA's interests in the Avatar Sequels!— Avatar (@officialavatar) February 6, 2019
Are you as excited as we are? pic.twitter.com/6fIZzpwN7O
And a big announcement was to come in October 2017: Kate Winslet is teaming with James Cameron for a Titanic reunion, playing the role of Ronal in the Avatar universe. This marks their first collaboration since the 1997 blockbuster, with Cameron admitting they were "looking for something to do together for 20 years".
Star Trek: Discovery's Michelle Yeoh has also joined the cast as scientist Dr Karina Mogue, while Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel is on board too.
Deadline has also reported that Jemaine Clement has joined the series as marine biologist Dr Ian Garvin, described by Cameron as "one of my favourite characters".
Avatar 2 plot: Back to Pandora
Cameron has teased some details of the plot of Avatar 2 in the years since the first movie, which will deal with 'familial and imprisonment' themes.
The filmmaker has also been keen to point out that the films can all stand on their own, just in case you're one of the three people who didn't see the original.
"Each movie is a standalone movie that we would wanna go see," said producer Jon Landau. "You don't need to have seen the first Avatar to see Avatar 2. It sits there and we're gonna take people on a visual and an emotional journey that comes to its own conclusion."
Set several years after the events of Avatar, Sully is now chieftain and Neytiri high priestess of their clan – although events will apparently focus on their children.
We hear they'll also be journeying beyond the forests of Pandora into underwater and volcanic environments that Cameron promises will make "you shit yourself with your mouth wide open". That's supposed to be a good thing, we think...
Landau confirmed at the Fox presentation at CineEurope in June 2018 that water "plays a huge part" in the movies.
To really capture the importance of water, Avatar 2 will film its motion capture scenes underwater. "It's never been done before and it's very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras. The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror," Cameron explained to Collider.
"That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers. It's a little bit like a fighter plane dumping a bunch of chaff to confuse the radar system of a missile. It creates thousands of false targets, so we’ve had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did."
Though technological feats are clearly integral to the movie, Landau said of the four sequels: "At the heart of any movie are the characters. One of the strengths of great scripts are always the universal and relatable themes... There's no more relatable theme than family.
"At the centre of each of our four movies will be the Sully family. Each sequel will play as a standalone movie. Each movie's story will come to its own conclusion... However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger connected epic saga for audiences around the world."
Not only is Lang somehow back as the dead Colonel Miles Quaritch, but he's going to be the main villain of the four movies.
There will also be a time jump between the movies to almost match the delay between them as Cameron has confirmed Jake and Neytiri have an 8-year-old daughter together, while teasing that Worthington had to go to "some dark places" for Avatar 2 and 3.
As to the movies' appearance, Cameron promises that they will be so advanced you "just won't be able to imagine" what they're going to look like.
Avatar 2 trailer: You're kidding, right?
But there are a load of fan-made trailers if you need something to tide you over until Avatar 2 hits.
Cameron has been realistic about the probability of seeing the next four Avatar movies – it all depends on how Avatar 2 does at the box office. But Cameron did promise Avatar 3 in 2023 if Avatar 2 is a success.
Avatar 2 is released in cinemas (probably) on December 17, 2021.
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