It was two years ago when powerhouse director James Cameron provided a milestone update on the long, long, long overdue sequels of the Avatar franchise. The poster boy for high-concept cinema confirmed Avatar 2 had officially completed filming while Avatar 3 was “95% complete” (and only a decade on from the original). This week, Avatar 2 has been given a title and release date at Las Vegas’ CinemaCon 2022, wherein footage was actually previewed.
This US$250 million / AU$350 million follow-up was originally scheduled to hit theatres back in 2014. As we know, this didn’t actually eventuate, the key reason cited being Cameron’s desire to shoot all four sequels consecutively Lord of the Rings-style with major scriptwriting issues at one point. To the ongoing production’s credit, however, the motion caption work for both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 had been completed in late 2019, with a third of Avatar 4‘s filming having (apparently) already been accomplished.
After eight separate delays, 20th Century Studios has locked in a December 16th of 2022 release date for Avatar 2 – or Avatar: The Way of Water – with a first teaser trailer set to be unveiled during the theatrical screenings of Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness throughout the coming week.
“With the first Avatar, we set out to push the limits of the big screen,” explains James Cameron.
“With the new Avatar films, we’re pushing those limits even farther with 3D, with high dynamic range, with high frame rate, higher resolution, and a much greater reality in our visual effects.”
Avatar: The Way of Water follows Jake Sully (portrayed by Sam Worthington) twelve years after exploring Pandora and joining the Na’vi. Jake has since raised a family with Netiri (portrayed by Zoe Saldana) and established himself within the peaceful clans of the new world. Peace, however, is soon interrupted when the RDA mining operation from the original film returns to “finish what they started.”
James Cameron previously made the hefty call of comparing his sci-fi saga to The Godfather series. As we’ve said before, take that as you will.
“It’s a generational family saga… a continuation of the same characters and about what happens when warriors,” said the man himself.
“Willing to go on suicide charges and leap off cliffs onto the backs of big orange Toruks, grow up, and have their own kids. Now, the kids are the change-makers. It’s interesting.”
“One of the strengths of James Cameron’s scripts is the almost universal and relatable themes that he weaves into them,” producer Jon Landau told the audience in attendance at CinemaCon 2022.
“And there’s no more relatable theme than family. At the centre of each of our four sequels will be the Sully family. Jake and Neytiri’s family.”
“Each sequel will play out as a standalone movie. Each story will come to its own conclusion. Each movie will deliver the audience fulfilling emotional resolutions in each and every film. However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger, connected epic saga.”
“I can get choked up just talking about it because I was able to see just 20 minutes of the second instalment right before the year ended last year, and I was speechless. I was moved to tears,” says Zoe Saldana.
“I think you really have to brace yourself for it, but it’s going to be an adventure that you will not forget.”
In addition to Worthington and Saldana, the cast has welcomed Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Cowell, Vin Diesel, and even Jermaine Clement. The likes of Giovanni Ribisi and Sigourney Weaver have also made a return, with the latter’s role marked as an unknown. In a 2014 interview, Weaver stated her character would not be the same one from the original.
If the rest of the franchise’s production timeline plays out as intended, here’s when we can expect the remaining three films thereafter (titles subject to change):
- Avatar 3: The Seed Bearer – December 20th of 2024
- Avatar 4: The Tulkun Rider – December 18th of 2026
- Avatar 5: The Quest for Eywa – December 22nd of 2028
Once again, Avatar 2: The Way of Water currently has a scheduled release date of December 16th, 2022. To revisit the first Avatar – the film that redefined an entire era of filmmaking and special effects – hit the link below.