The joke that it has been half a lifetime since the first Avatar came out is not a joke anymore; it's just a statement of fact. That movie came out in 2009, so kids born the year it came out are going to be thirteen this year and are old enough to see the sequel when it comes out in December. A very long-after-the-fact sequel is not exactly unheard of, but that is for movies that are considered classics or at least a cult classic. Avatar had a massive box office at the time of its release, but is it a classic or a cult classic? Is there still enough interest in these films to justify four more films? These are the questions we've all been asking since the release date for Avatar: The Way of Water was set in stone. It seems that James Cameron is also pondering those questions and solutions.
James Cameron: The Man With The [Backup] Plan
It's not just the sheer amount of time that Avatar: The Way of Water needs to contend with when it comes to bringing in an audience, but it also needs to contend with a very different blockbuster landscape. In a new interview with Total Film, Cameron agrees that the world that he released Avatar and the world he is dropping the sequel are very different.
"We're in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even," Cameron says. "It's the one-two punch – the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we'll remind people what going to the theatre is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a shit now?"
That is the question of the year when it comes to a movie with a budget as big as Avatar: The Way of Water, but it sounds like Cameron is a realist, at least. Fans have wondered what would happen if this movie bombed and there were supposed to be three more on the way. Does that mean you're going to be sitting on a forever cliffhanger? It sounds like Cameron could tweak the story enough to wrap things up in movie three if the second one doesn't do well.
"The market could be telling us we're done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: 'OK, let's complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly' if it's just not profitable," Cameron explained.
So that's good news for fans, at least. Even if this movie doesn't do well, it does sound like there will be a resolution, if a bit rushed resolution in the third movie, so that's good. It's also good to hear that Cameron is a realist regarding whether or not there is interest in this sequel. However, he has given a lot of thought about what makes for a good sequel, and, as Total Film also points out, Cameron does have a good track record [Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day] when it comes to making sequels.
"The key to a sequel is to be surprising in ways that are not off-putting," Cameron explains. "To reconnect with the familiar that was fun and good, and that caused the first film to be a hit. But doing it in a way that's unexpected, or that takes you someplace that's unexpected."
We'll know in a little over two months whether or not anyone gives a shit about Avatar: The Way of Water and those numbers will determine whether this series is a trilogy or if it goes all the way to the planned five-movie arc.
Avatar: The Way of Water: Summary, Cast, Release Date
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. The film is directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau; the film stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, and Kate Winslet. Avatar: The Way of Water will be released on December 16th.