After eight long years of waiting, James Cameron is finally filming Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. He also has scripts written and plans to make Avatar 4 and Avatar 5. While it previously seemed like those movies were part of the package, that may not be the case. As James Cameron warns, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 will be completely dependent on the box office performance of Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. Here's what he had to say about it in a recent interview.
"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."
Avatar absolutely obliterated the box office in 2009 and 2010, and remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It reset the bar in terms of just how much money a movie can possibly make, bringing in a truly tremendous $2.78 billion worldwide. With money like that, it's amazing that Avatar 2 took so long to get going. But much of that had to do with the fact that James Cameron developed four more movies that would ultimately make for a five-movie saga. However, as revealed in this new interview, that full saga is far from a guarantee at this point.
In the years since the release of the first Avatar, the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking has changed. The rise of superhero movies, cinematic universes and everything becoming a franchise has led to a glut of major releases that moviegoers have to choose from. Also, Disney started releasing new Star Wars movies, which is a big deal. Point being, it's very hard to expect that, a decade later, which is how long it will be by the time Avatar 2 hits theaters, that these sequels can make nearly $3 billion at the box office. That said, if they even make a third of that, Fox will probably be doing cartwheels. That's a lot of money.
Fox has dated the Avatar sequels for release on December 18, 2020, December 17, 2021, December 20, 2024, and December 19, 2025. Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 are in production now and will feature a ton of underwater performance capture, which took a long time to perfect. James Cameron and Fox will likely wait to see the box office for Avatar 2, as indicated in this interview with Vanity Fair, before starting filming on Avatar 4 and Avatar 5. The good news is that each movie can stand on its own so, even if all five movies don't get made, their won't be a frustrating sense of inconclusiveness.