Why James Cameron Says There Might Be Only 2 Avatar Sequels Instead of 4

When James Cameron announced in 2016 there would be not one, not two, not three, but four sequels to Avatar, many moviegoers wondered if fans would even want four sequels to the hit film, or if it was even feasible. Now, Cameron is addressing the concerns, saying that two of those sequels may not happen.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron admitted that if Avatar 2 and 3 don't perform well at the box office, plans to release the fourth and fifth instalments could easily change.

"Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5," he said.

"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, s--t, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.' Even though that all worked and everybody did."

Last week, the director revealed why it's taken him so long to begin shooting the sequels to the 2009 film, blaming underwater motion-capture technology.

"Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets ten times harder. So, we’ve thrown a lot of horsepower, innovation, imagination and new technology at the problem, and it’s taken us about a year and a half now to work out how we’re going to do it," he told Collider, claiming it's "never been done before."

He also confirmed that the majority of underwater scenes will take place in Avatar 2 and 3.

Release dates for the sequels have been set for Dec. 18, 2020, Dec. 17, 2021, Dec. 20, 2024 and Dec. 19, 2025.

It was recently announced that Kate Winslet, who Cameron directed in 1997's Titanic, joined the cast of Avatar 2 as a character named Ronal.

"She’s very excited about it," Cameron told Vanity Fair. "She blazed through for a couple of days of rehearsals and saw the world that we had created, and how we do the work, and she’s very excited. She plays a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people."

"The one thing she did do is demand that she do all her own water work," Cameron added of the actress. "I said, 'All right, that’s fine, we’ll have to teach you how to free dive.' The other actors are up to three- and four-minute breath holds. We’ve already been doing underwater capture. We did a scene last week with six teenagers, well, actually five teenagers and one 7-year-old underwater holding their breath for a couple minutes and acting, actually doing a dialogue scene under water because they speak kind of a sign language."

Avatar 2 will focus on the offspring of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), with the actors set to reprise their roles from the first film alongside a group of new young actors who will play their children.

"It will be a natural extension of all the themes, and the characters, and the spiritual undercurrents," Cameron said of the sequels. "Basically, if you loved the first movie, you’re gonna love these movies, and if you hated it, you’re probably gonna hate these. If you loved it at the time, and you said later you hated it, you’re probably gonna love these."