James Cameron has revealed the planned release dates for his quintet of Avatar sequels, with dates between 2020 and 2025. Ever since the first Avatar set an all-time box office record of $2.7 billion (one that doesn't look likely to be beaten anytime soon) in 2009, sequels in some form have been at the forefront of James Cameron's mind. He created an entire world that - thanks to the wonders of motion capture and 3D technology - audiences were clearly hungry for and he has some big ideas for.
Over the years, the number of sequels has grown to be a whopping four, all of which are set to shoot back-to-back. Just as the plans for numbers have changed, so too have its release dates. Avatar 2 was originally set for 2014, then 2018, but departed that date a couple of months ago (and was replaced by Aquaman). With the extensive shoot set to start later in 2017, Cameron's now confirmed some more achievable dates.
On Avatar's official Facebook, the director revealed the release dates for all four sequels. The info was also sent out by Fox Distribution this morning (on this and the next X-Men movies): Avatar 2 on December 18, 2020, Avatar 3 on December 17, 2021, Avatar 4 on December 20, 2024 and finally Avatar 5 on December 19, 2025.
Little is known about the content of the sequels, and plans revealed in the wake of the original's 2009 release - such as an underwater-focused Part 2 - could have changed. Cameron has said since said that it will deal with the family of Jake Sully, a human who transferred his consciousness into a Na'vi avatar at the end of the first film, which the gap between releases would reaffirm. The dates themselves also suggests that the four movies will form two duologies, with 2 and 3 coming in concurrent years before a gap in 2022 and 2023 ahead of parts 4 and 5.
This is a very interesting move in terms of the wider blockbuster culture. December has been marked out as Star Wars month ever since The Force Awakens - the film that's come the closest to toppling Avatar as the biggest film ever - hit in 2015, a fact that has been viewed by some as part of Cameron's struggle to set a date. Indeed, the space fantasy's release dates go up to December 2019 with Colin Trevorrow's sequel-trilogy-ender Episode IX, with Avatar 2's 2020 date seeing it jumping straight in after. It's unclear what Lucasfilm's plans are post-IX, but rumors suggested that the studio are looking to starve the market of Star Wars ahead of a fourth trilogy, and this move may force that hand.
For the Avatar series, 2020 is a manageable target (compared to the very ambitious early plans), making it look less likely that the dates will be moved again. However, due to the long pre-production process, it does mean there'll have been eleven years between films. That's a longer absence than Star Wars between the prequels and sequels, which reframes what was originally meant to be a film riding the hype wave as a legacy production and does raise the question of whether the enthusiasm for Avatar, which has vastly subsided since the initial hype, will still be around to make the enterprise worth it.
Of course, it's never smart to doubt James Cameron; Titanic was predicted to be a box office bomb and critics were equally as skeptical of Avatar. If he thinks he can make four sequels a success, he has a good chance. Only three-and-a-half years until we find out.
Sources: Avatar, Fox
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