For years, James Cameron has been working on not one, not two, not even three, but four Avatar sequels. The first of the sequels, The Way of Water, is finally coming to theaters this Christmas. The plan is for each of the three subsequent Avatars following every other years: In 2024, 2026, and 2028.
But that’s the plan. And a lot can change in Hollywood over the course of six years. When Cameron started working on these sequels, he was making them for 20th Century Fox, the studio that released the original Avatar. Now 20th Century Fox doesn’t even exist. What’s left of it is known as 20th Century Studios, and it’s a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. And they may not want to release three more of these movies if the first one flops.
James Cameron himself concedes that could potentially happen. He told Total Film that there’s a chance that the franchise will end after just two sequels, depending on how these next installments do at the box office. As he put it:
We’re in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even. It’s the one-two punch – the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we’ll remind people what going to the theatre is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a s— now?
Some people claim not to care about Avatar, or to have forgotten about it entirely since it was released in 2009. But the first movie remains the highest-grossing motion picture in history; someone out there is intrigued by the concept of more of these things. I think The Way of Water is guaranteed to do well. But four more sequels? There might not be that much of an appetite for Avatar.
While Cameron described these movies as “hideously expensive” he also promised “we’re delivering three hours of a pretty much insane experience.” And if that’s true, people will come. There’s always an audience for true spectacle.
Avatar: The Way of Water is scheduled to open in theaters on December 16, 2022.
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