James Cameron defends three-hour Avatar sequel: ‘I don’t want whining’

James Cameron has pre-empted fears that his forthcoming sequel to 2009’s Avatar will be met with apathy when it’s released in December.

Speaking to Empire, Cameron addressed the frequent criticism of the original film that few can remember the name – Jake Sully – of its protagonist, played by Sam Worthington.

Worthington’s character plays a man who operates the body of a humanoid alien of a species known as Na’vi on a remote planet, Pandora, which humans are seeking to colonise in the 22nd century.

“The trolls will have it that nobody gives a shit and they can’t remember the characters’ names or one damn thing that happened in the movie,” he said.

“Then they see the movie again and go, ‘Oh, OK, excuse me, let me just shut the fuck up right now.’ So I’m not worried about that.”

On release, Avatar became the highest-grossing film of all time, a record it retained for a decade until the release of Avengers: Endgame, but then regained it in 2021 following a Chinese rerelease of Avatar.

Adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $3bn in sales. Gone with the Wind has the top spot.

Yet Avatar’s critical legacy has been a mixed one, and Cameron’s passion project sequels were mired in pre-production for many years.

The first of four planned sequels, Avatar: The Way of Water has an awards season run planned to tie in with its Christmas release. Cameron also expressed defiance in the face of those who might balk at the film’s three-hour runtime.

“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” he said.

“It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s OK to get up and go pee.”

The new film sees the return of Worthington and Zoe Saldana, as well as Sigourney Weaver, despite her character dying in the first film.