Dileep Rao has been confirmed to return in the Avatar sequel. The first Avatar film introduced viewers to a number of key secondary characters, including Dileep Rao's Max Patel. One of the civilian scientists working in the Avatar project, Max seemed to have been working on Pandora for a number of years. He became fiercely loyal to Grace Augustine's leadership, and warned Grace that Jake was reporting to Colonel Quaritch.
According to Deadline, Rao is the latest member of Avatar's supporting cast to be confirmed for the sequel. It seems James Cameron is reuniting most of the original cast, aiming to create the same kind of dynamic that made the first film a hit.
The Avatar sequels remain one of the most intriguing projects in Fox's current slate. The studio believes the future is bright for the franchise, and are keen to see Cameron launch a series of sequels. Avatar 2 officially began production last September, and is expected to release on December 18, 2020. So far, plot details have been kept highly secret, but the sequel is expected to dive deep into Pandora's bountiful oceans.
FOX isn't the only one to believe great things are in store for the Avatar franchise. Disney has announced an unprecedented deal to purchase the bulk of FOX's assets, and the Avatar sequels have been described as the "crown jewels" of the purchase. The first film grossed over $3 billion in the global box office, although its cultural impact was surprisingly muted. Both Disney and Fox believe that the sequels will be box office successes.
But there's more riding on this than just a film franchise. Disney is seeking a rival for the Universal Studios/Warner Bros. Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks, and they believe the World of Pandora parks could be just what they're looking for. The first of these theme parks only opened recently, although it became something of a gamble; it opened a full seven years after the first film's release. Thankfully, the gamble seems to have worked out. The FOX purchase is currently with government regulators; should it be approved, Disney will hope to stagger further theme parks in time with release of the sequels.
Can lightning truly strike twice? The reality is that Avatar simply hasn't had a pronounced cultural impact. That makes James Cameron's sequels, with their hefty budgets, another gamble. Only the release of Avatar 2 will tell whether or not this one will pay off.
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