Even though we know that Avatar is a huge project that takes years before it’s finally ready to hit the screens, one thing we kept asking ourselves during the 13-year gap between Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water was: Why did it take so long? As director James Cameron started working on press tours for the sequel, we started getting bits and pieces of information that explained the delay, like new technology being developed exclusively for the movie. In a new interview with Collider during our IMAX screening of the new film, the blockbuster’s producer Jon Landau revealed that the Avatar team was far busier than we thought.
Landau confirmed to our own Editor-in-Chief Steve Weintraub the information that the first act of Avatar 4 is already filmed, but now he revealed a new piece of information that suggests we won’t have to worry about the release schedule—one movie every two years—getting delayed because all upcoming installments already have a script and Avatar 3 is well underway. Landau broke down how the whole project was mapped out, championed Cameron’s work, and teased the future of the franchise:
“What we’ve done is, first of all, we’ve completed all four scripts for 2, 3, 4, and 5. [The cast] read them. They know where their characters go. They know. It informs how they play these scenes. We went out and we shot all of movie 2. We shot 95% of movie 3. We have a little bit that we have to still pick up. And we shot the first act of movie 4. […] I think one of the great things that we’ve done, and Jim has done in these scripts, is each movie is going to take you to new biomes and new cultures. And I think one of the things that Avatar has is this idea of ‘Oel ngati kameie.’ I see you. And it’s not about seeing you for who you physically are, or what you look like. It’s about seeing you from the inside, and the idea that we get to introduce new diverse clans that look different than the Omaticaya, and send a metaphor for our world, and accepting people for who they are on the inside and not judging them by who they are on the outside.”
This means that, while we gear up to return to Pandora for a third time in 2024 with Avatar 3, production will be far ahead of us. This is great news for fans of Avatar because it means that, even in the worst-case scenario that Avatar: The Way of Water isn’t a hit (which probably won’t be the case), we still have a great chance of getting to see at least one more movie.
For Avatar, “Success” Means Something Different—and Harder
Of course, the standard for “being a hit” for Avatar is completely different, since the first installment set the bar as high as possible by becoming the highest-grossing movie ever. Since the production of each installment is extremely expensive, turning a profit for the franchise means raking in at least a billion dollars. Nonetheless, Landau stressed he’s confident about the future of the franchise:
“I’m planning on finishing [Avatar] 4 and 5. There’s going to be an audience, we’re going to finish those movies. [I’ve] read the scripts. Each movie comes to its own emotional resolution, as I said, but movie 5 really drives it home.”
Landau isn’t alone in his confidence. Recently, Cameron revealed a producer’s reaction from when they read the script of Avatar 4, and early box office reports suggest that Avatar: The Way of Water will perform pretty well in movie theaters across the world. On top of that, early critics’ reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and the fact that Avatar’s visuals alone invite people to movie theaters might suggest that our return ticket to Pandora is guaranteed.
Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now.