The day has finally come: cameras are officially rolling on the AVATAR sequels. Indeed, filmmaker James Cameron has been promising this day would come ever since the first movie hit theaters in 2009 and went on to gross $2.7 billion, but he took his time, providing updates here and there as to the progress of AVATAR 2 and then, eventually, the revelation there would be four new AVATAR sequels in total.
Filming is now officially underway, and Deadline reports the budget for all four films is expected to exceed $1 billion. While this number may sound insane, it’s actually not too high when you consider it takes into account four technologically advanced, CG-created feature films. BATMAN V SUPERMAN alone cost a reported $250 million, so considering Cameron’s use of motion-capture and how much time he’s already put into literally inventing new technology for the sequels, $1 billion sounds about right. Moreover, given that AVATAR made $2.7 billion, 20th Century Fox is no doubt banking on getting a much bigger return on that investment.
Will audiences show up? One of the solid rules of the film industry in the last quarter century is “Never bet against James Cameron”, but yes, it will have been over a decade since the release of AVATAR by the time AVATAR 2 hits theaters in 2020. That opening weekend should be interesting.
We still don’t know too much about AVATAR 2, 3, 4 and 5, but the most recent reported plan was to shoot AVATAR 2 and AVATAR 3 simultaneously, take a break for post-production on those movies, then go back and finish up with AVATAR 4 and AVATAR 5. That would certainly track with the current release strategy:
AVATAR 2 – December 18, 2020
AVATAR 3 – December 17, 2021
AVATAR 4 – December 20, 2024
AVATAR 5 – December 19, 2025
We know Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang are all expected to return for the sequels, with Cliff Curtis joining the ensemble in a lead role. But that’s about it as far as known cast at the moment. Then again, given the fluid nature of production here we may be hearing casting news for the next few years.