Presiding over an international box office haul of $2.78 billion, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that 20th Century Fox and director James Cameron are keen to push on with Avatar 2. But both parties are currently dreaming bigger – much bigger.
Last we reported on the long-gestating follow-up, Cameron had hatched plans for four fully-fledged sequels rooted in the lush, alien world of Pandora. All entries in the extended Avatar saga are due to shoot concurrently which is, as the filmmaker told Variety during SDCC 2016, a tale that grew immensely in the telling.
“The ‘Avatar’ story arc was originally meant to be a trilogy, but I overwrite, and my writers overwrote as well,” he told Variety. “But basically, the first of the sequels cloned itself and became two films, so now it’s four films. And the studio’s very happy with it. They have an opportunity to make more money, but it’s also an opportunity to spend a lot more money, too, so there’s a clench factor.”
That’s something that will likely prove contentious among fans and general moviegoers alike. First released in 2009, Avatar still stands as the cash cow to end all cash cows, and even Disney’s barnstorming Star Wars: The Force Awakens failed to dethrone James Cameron’s box office king late last year.
But the fact that the esteemed filmmaker is guilty of over-indulging in the Avatar world does raise the question: could Cameron not edit and trim that story arc, essentially curbing the vision into a trilogy rather than multiple sequels?
Alas, we’ll leave that one to the Powers That Be over at Fox. As for Avatar 2, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and, somewhat surprisingly, Sigourney Weaver are all in line to reprise.
Hoping to ensure that the original box office behemoth doesn’t go down in the history books as one lavish fluke, Avatar 2 is expected to swoop into theaters in time for Christmas 2018. Cameron will likely shuffle that release date around in fear of a clash with Disney’s Star Wars sequel, but whatever the case, Avatars 3, 4 and 5 are tentatively pegged for release in Christmas of 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. Assuming the filmmaker can keep pace with an annual release timeline, that is.