The slow and steady production pace continues as confirmation that the Avatar sequels will begin filming live-action scenes in the spring makes its way to the internet. After years of working to ensure all the moving parts, from the technology to the cast to the script, were in order following the release and massive success of 2009's Avatar, momentum on the production of the sequels is finally picking up speed.
In the decade since Avatar premiered, it's achieved a reputation as one of the more technologically ambitious and sweeping fantasy films of the modern age. A passion project for Oscar-winning director James Cameron, Avatar introduced viewers to the alien planet of Pandora, home to the Na'vi, and the Avatar initiative, which seeks to implant the consciousness of humans into Na'vi host bodies. Viewers see this world through paraplegic veteran Jake Sully's (Sam Worthington) eyes as he becomes one of the first Avatar test subjects, going on to form a bond with the Na'vi and a relationship with Na'vi warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). To date, Avatar is considered one of the highest-grossing films of all time with approximately $2.7 billion in its bank account.
According to an exclusive interview with Collider, producer Jon Landau confirmed that filming for the live-action scenes of the Avatar sequels would begin in the spring. In addition to confirming that principal capture (that is, the motion-capture portion of the films) had been completed already, Landau went on to say that "we have completed our principal capture on Avatar 2, 3, and part of 4. We’re going to do our live-action filming in New Zealand in the spring of this year," before going on to detail why there was a delay in the production schedule.
"We needed to have all the scripts done before we embarked on production. We needed to understand where the characters were going. Not only did we need to understand it, our cast needed to understand it. Our cast playing these roles needed to understand decisions they were making in movies 2 and 3, how it would affect them in movie 4. Because if they didn’t, they might not bring the same thing to it. So we waited to complete all four scripts before we ever embarked on doing the project."
Over the course of the last year, news about the plans for the Avatar sequels has come at a steady pace. In October 2018, we learned that Sigourney Weaver would be reprising the role of Dr. Grace Augustine and had already begun filming on Avatar 4 and 5 now that production on Avatar 2 and 3 had reportedly wrapped. We also learned in November 2018 of the tentative titles for the sequels which, in order, could be: Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa. The most recent news was in relation to casting, with it being confirmed this month that Edie Falco had been cast as General Ardmore, the RDA Commander who viewers will meet in the upcoming Avatar sequels. It's unclear which sequel she will first appear in. We also know that, in addition to Weaver and Falco, actors Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Stephen Lang will be reprising the roles they originated in the first Avatar.
Although official release years have been announced, specific premiere dates for the Avatar sequels are still unknown as well as specifics around the plots of any or all of the sequels. In spite of this, it's fair to say that curiosity and excitement around what the end result of these long-awaited sequels will look, sound, and feel like is growing with each new bit of information that is learned. It would be foolish to think Cameron won't swing for the fences on these sequels and from the reports of the time and care being put into the scripts as well as the extended shooting schedule that's on the books, it's safe to say that the sequels will be monumental events when they finally arrive in theaters.
- 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