The Avatar sequels will not be shot in high frame rate. With everything that James Cameron’s Avatar has accomplished since its 2009 release, it’s hard to imagine exactly where the multi-Oscar winning filmmaker will take things next.
Between 2021 and 2027, Cameron plans to release four more Avatar films – a staggering feat for any filmmaker, but particularly impressive when attempted by someone who's already set the cinematic bar so high. There have been many questions about exactly what these sequels will look like and where the story will go. At the same time, however, there have also been questions by some as to why on earth the public needs four more Avatar films. With this being said, it’s perhaps far too easy to forget just what the overall theatrical experience of Avatar was like, back in 2009. In fact, a fair argument could likely be made that much of the technology and spectacle we now enjoy at the theatre comes in no small part as a result of Cameron’s pioneering ways.
As for the upcoming Avatar films, fans have expected or hoped that Cameron would employ more of the groundbreaking filmmaking that the 65-year-old is known for. Now, thanks to Collider, we are a little closer to understanding what’s in store for Avatar fans with the upcoming sequels. During the recent interview, Cameron admitted that while he hadn’t seen the troubled Ang Lee and Will Smith effort, Gemini Man (which was shot at 120 frames per second), he sees high frame rate footage as more of a sporadic flourish to a film than an actual necessity:
“I’ve seen some clips from Gemini Man. I haven’t seen the picture yet because I’m down here in New Zealand. I’m interested to see it. I mean, I have a personal philosophy around high frame rate, which is that it is a specific solution to specific problems having to do with 3D. And when you get the strobing and the jutter of certain shots that pan or certain lateral movement across frame, it’s distracting in 3D. And to me, it’s just a solution for those shots. I don’t think it’s a format. That’s just me personally. I know Ang sees it that way. I don’t think it’s like the next 70 millimetres or the next big thing. I think it’s a tool to be used to solve problems in 3D projection. And I’ll be using it sparingly throughout the Avatar films, but they won’t be in high frame rate. But I am curious to see what they came up with. Have you guys seen it? And you saw a high frame rate screening?
Yes. Actually, underwater stuff in particular stood out.
Well, this is the thing. The more mundane the subject, two people talking in the kitchen, the worse it works, because you feel like you’re in a set of a kitchen with actors in make up. That’s how real it is, you know? But I think when you’ve got extraordinary subjects that are being shot for real, or even through CG, that hyper-reality actually works in your favour. So to me, it’s a wand that you wave in certain moments and use when you need it. It’s an authoring tool."
For those who might feel disappointed that the sequels won’t be shot in high frame rate, it seems that when Cameron does use the technology, it will be done so sparingly. In this way, someone who has a definite and precise understanding of high frame rate’s drawbacks and benefits is using it when necessary.
This is an important distinction to make, because what this latest Avatar sequels news actually means is that Cameron appears to once again be ahead of the game, utilizing his technology knowledge to build something unlike anything we’ve seen before. One thing Cameron's always seemed to have a handle on is how to properly make use of new tech, dating back to his early films like Terminator 2. While Lee arguably stumbled in that area, the "King of the World" seems determined not to.
- Avatar 2 (2021) release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 3 (2023) release date: Dec 22, 2023
- Avatar 4 (2025) release date: Dec 19, 2025
- Avatar 5 (2027) release date: Dec 17, 2027