James Cameron isn’t even mad. It may be thirteen years since his last directorial effort, 2009’s Avatar, premiered in theaters. Still, the award-winning director, arguably one of the most successful moneymakers of all time, doesn’t sound the slightest bit worried about whether his longtime fans will be returning to see the movie’s sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, due out this December.
“The trolls will have it that nobody gives a shit, and they can’t remember the characters’ names or one damn thing that happened in the movie,” Cameron told Empire Online. “Then they see the movie again and go, ‘Oh, okay, excuse me, let me just shut the fuck up right now.’ So I’m not worried about that.”
Perhaps thirteen years is long enough time for moviegoers to forget the excitement and response to the original Avatar, which became the highest-grossing film of the year and went on to become the second highest-grossing film of all time, beating out Cameron’s previous record-holder, Titanic, and coming in behind only Gone With the Wind. And while Avatar may have lost a little of its hold on the public consciousness in the intervening years, it’s no surprise that 20th Century Studios is willing to bet on the movie becoming a full-fledged franchise this year, with three more sequels already set to follow The Way of Water over the next six years.
Despite the increased relevance of the tentpole genre movie in the last decade — the MCU was only two movies in when Avatar hit screens in 2009 — Cameron’s success still elevates him well beyond the box office take of even 600-pound tentpole gorillas like Avengers: Endgame. It’s no surprise he isn’t exactly fretting over social media snark.
Avatar: The Way of Water will release theatrically on Dec. 16.