Chances of us sitting in a cinema any time soon might be getting slimmer, but that isn’t stopping James Cameron’s plans for further alien world exploration. In what is now over a decade since our last encounter with the Na’vi in Avatar, the director formerly known as The King of the World spoke to Empire in their latest issue about how he’s having to handle pumping the brakes on the sequels to the biggest and most successful film he ever made. In truth, he’d be forgiven for being less Na’vi blue, and more Terminator eye red over the situation, but by the sounds of things he’s taken it all very well.
“It’s putting a major crimp in our stride here. I want to get back to work on Avatar, which right now we’re not allowed to do under state emergency laws or rules. So it’s all on hold right now. We were about to shoot down in New Zealand, so that got pushed. We’re trying to get back to it as quick as we can.”Empire Magazine
While time might not seem to have been of the essence with Avatar‘s follow-ups given how much has been spent, Cameron has had to wait for technology to catch up with the blockbuster-building filmmaker’s ideas to bring them to life since the first film. With the next chapters in the franchise set to have demanding underwater shoots and Jake Sully and his tribe going to the farthest corners of Pandora, in more stunning adventures, it’s understandable that this recent setback is a kick in the teeth. As we all hope though, this can’t last forever, and given New Zealand’s impressive handling of the pandemic, Cameron expects to be heading back to Pandora pretty soon.
“On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing. So there’s a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still do it. So that’s good news. We’ve got everybody – everybody at Weta Digital and Lightstorm – working from home to the extent that that is possible, but my work is on the stage doing the virtual cameras and so on, so I can do a bit of editing, but it’s not great for me.”Empire Magazine
While the clock is ticking to get cast, crew and a (probably) shouty Cameron back to New Zealand, one thing that is far beyond expectation is the budget for the film’s so far. Reports in (via Deadline) are that the sequels individually are hitting over $1 billion each so the hope is that every penny has been spent wisely for what is now an ironclad schedule for a handful of sequels. Avatar 2 is set for release December 17, 2021 followed by Avatar 3 on December 22, 2023. Avatar 4 is aiming for December 19, 2025 with Avatar 5 will drop on December 17, 2027. The final two are the biggest risks though, only set to go underway depending on the success of 2 and 3. Giant smurfish fingers crossed, then.