James Cameron has delayed the release of his Avatar sequels again. The most recent release date for Avatar 2 has been pushed from its December 25, 2017 date to an unspecified time further down the road.
The move comes not so much from the idea of 20th Century Fox not wanting to go head-to-head at the box office with Star Wars: Episode: VIII, which recently relocated its release date to December 15, 2017 as it is that Cameron appears to still be prepping the films. Although The Wrap reports that “[s]oundstage construction and some computer animation work is in the early stages,” no firm start of production has been scheduled.
Cameron has plans to film all three Avatar sequels simultaneously, and then releasing them a year apart. Avatar stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana signed onto the sequels back in 2014. Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang are also expected to return.
Back in 2013, Cameron hired Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Shane Salerno (Savages) to pen Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 respectively. In previous interviews, Cameron stated that the sequels would continue to explore the ecosystem of the moon Pandora, going into that world’s oceans, as well as some of the neighboring moons in the Alpha Centauri system.
While I am not saying that delays and postponements have become the norm for these films, but if Cameron had kept to his initially announced schedule, Avatar 2 would have been released in December 2014 and we would have seen both of his initially conceived two sequels by now.
But Cameron’s bigger problem is not his own tardiness, but public apathy. Even before Star Wars came along and dominated the geek news for the last several months, Avatar has pretty much been absent from any type of ongoing film discussion. The only time that Avatar has been brought up in conversation is when people ask why no one ever talks about Avatar any more. And that forgetability is pretty damning for a film that is the all time box office champ.