Avatar producer Jon Landau claims audiences don’t need to see the original movie to understand the sequels, because each one tells a complete story. Avatar was a dream project for writer/director James Cameron, who had to wait years for technology to catch up to his vision for it. The filmmaker also likes to build worlds, so he worked a complete guide to the ecology of the planet Pandora, right down to the various creatures and plants that inhabit it.
The original Avatar tells the story of a paraplegic ex-marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is brought to Pandora and given an Avatar Na’vi body to remote pilot. Jake soon finds himself drawn to the native people on the planet, so when they’re threatened by a paramilitary group, he helps them lead a revolt. While many critics felt Avatar’s story was basically a remake of Dance With Wolves but in space, the effects and technology were praised. The film remains the highest-grossing movie of all time and led to a wave of 3D blockbusters.
Cameron always stated there would be Avatar sequels and while he always felt it would be a trilogy, he eventually wrote scripts for four more movies. Now in a new conversation with Collider, producer Jon Landau says each sequel is being approached as a standalone story that doesn’t require previous knowledge.
Each movie is a standalone movie that we would wanna go see. You don’t need to have seen the first Avatar to see Avatar 2. It sits there and we’re gonna take people on a visual and an emotional journey that comes to its own conclusion. Okay, step back. Is that a movie we would wanna make just as a standalone story? Yes. Now we do the same thing on Movie 3, Movie 4, and Movie 5. What we have the luxury of on Avatar is the world of Pandora. We get to keep it there but everything can be new, we’re not treading new ground.
This sounds like a smart approach because, by the time Avatar 2 hits cinemas, it will have been 11 years since the release of the first movie. Cameron has always had a talent for crafting great sequels that build off the original (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens) and given the time he’s invested in the Avatar series, there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case here. The storylines for the various follow-ups are being kept under wraps for now, and there’s still no explanation for how Stephen Lang’s Colonel Quaritch is returning despite his terminal case of death in the last movie.
James Cameron is having a very busy year, aside from the Avatar sequels. He co-wrote and produced upcoming blockbuster Alita Battle Angel, which is a project he once developed for himself to direct before heading it over to Robert Rodriguez. He also produced Tim Miller’s Terminator 6, which will only acknowledge the events of the first two movies. Alita and Terminator 6 are both hoping to kick off a trilogy, with the various sequels already mapped out. Of course, that’s dependent on the financial performance of the movies themselves.
- 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