James Cameron has candidly explained that Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 will not happen if Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 fail at the box office. Despite being one of the most financially successful and critically acclaimed directors in cinematic history, Cameron hasn’t been given complete creative freedom by 20th Century Fox. The first pair of Avatar sequels must make big money if Cameron wants to shoot and release the fourth and fifth films in his highly ambitious franchise.
The first Avatar film still stands proudly atop the all-time global box office leaderboard, having benefited from the resurgence of 3D cinema and the worldwide viewer intrigue that this technological change inspired. Cameron is attempting to reinvent the cinematic landscape once more with his Avatar sequels: he has previously expressed his desire to screen the films in revolutionary glasses-free 3D, removing one of the least-liked elements from the 3D film-watching experience. Cameron will also introduce a new underwater world in his Avatar follow-ups, providing a fresh locale to keep viewers interested.
Fox is banking hard on Cameron’s ideas, purportedly investing a $1 billion budget on the Avatar sequels to realize his creative vision. However, in a new interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron admitted that financial failure could still cut his story short:
"Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, “Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.” Even though that all worked and everybody did."
This chimes nicely with the shooting schedule of Cameron's Avatar sequels. As the director explained in a recent statement, “2 and 3 will be captured together and then [go through postproduction] sequentially.” If Fox isn’t happy with the box office returns of those two films, production will not resume and the fourth and fifth films will not be shot.
It seems safe to assume that Avatar 2, at least, will do well at the box office. Cameron’s first Avatar sequel moved its release date to avoid a clash with Star Wars, and in its new position - with the promise of new worlds and the potential for another reinvention of the cinematic experience - the film is sure to attract plenty of moviegoers. If that sequel impresses the general public, many of the same people will surely show up again for Avatar 3. If that doesn’t happen, though, then Cameron could be in trouble.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for all the latest Avatar sequel updates.
Source: Vanity Fair
- Avatar 2 (2020) release date: Dec 18, 2020
- Avatar 3 (2021) release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 4 (2024) release date: Dec 20, 2024
- Avatar 5 (2025) release date: Dec 19, 2025