First it was two. Then it was three. And now James Cameron has decided that he wants to make four sequels to his 2009 hit Avatar.
Speaking at CinemaCon today, Cameron stated (via Hollywood Reporter) “We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process.” Calling the previously announced plan to make three films “limiting,” Cameron went on to state that each film would stand alone, but form a more overarching saga when viewed together.
Avatar 2 had been set for a Christmas 2017 release, but is now being pushed back to the same time in 2018. The remaining installments will hit theaters in 2020, 2022 and 2023.
Cameron had planed to film all three Avatar sequels simultaneously, 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.
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 years, 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.