Sit back and relax, it’s your regularly scheduled Avatar sequel update: James Cameron has announced today at CinemaCon that he plans a total of four Avatar follow-ups, all due out before the end of 2023. That’ll be fourteen years after the original Avatar launched in theaters in 2009.
So, what’s the schedule looking like? It all starts in 2018, with Avatar 2 hitting Christmas that year, Avatar 3 due out Christmas 2020, Avatar 4 launching Christmas 2022, and Avatar 5 (which is officially real) getting a fast-track to Christmas 2023. Don’t think about how old you’ll be by the time they all inevitably come out, it just makes things worse.
Cameron said the reasoning for such a massive scope is that “there’s just too much story” being discovered in the writers room of the sequels. Not to mention his love of top-tier cinematic technology in bringing the world of Pandora to life.
Here’s a bit of his official statement:
“We’ve decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic process,” he said at CinemaCon. “We’ve begun to bump up against the limitation of our art form. There’s just too much story.” And that, according to Cameron, is why the decision was made to expand the series. “I’ve been working with a team of four top screenwriters and top designers in the world,” he teased. Describing the concept art and early development of the Avatar sequels, Cameron said, “In pure imagination, it’s far beyond the first film.
Those in attendance got to see a small sizzle reel of concept art from the upcoming films, including undersea battles amongst the Na’vi, and some form of aerial fights with spaceships in the space surrounding Pandora. It all ended with a new logo for the franchise, “featuring a big blue letter ‘A’ with a majestic Pandoran Mountain Banshee in the middle of it.” (You can check it out for yourself below).
During the presentation, Cameron confirmed that the sequels won’t follow a single through-line, but rather begin to be structured as a (here we go) cinematic universe. Part two seems to still take place underwater, but much else isn’t known beyond that point. “Each one [of the sequels] stands alone but together form a complete saga,” he said.
Avatar came out in a time before Marvel’s films weren’t as steadily monolithic and a Star Wars resurgence was only a dream, so it’ll be pretty interesting to see how all of these sequels perform in a holiday season sure to be crowded with tentpoles from other studios.