With the rapid-fire pace of movie sequels these days – the It sequel is already scheduled down to the day – it’d be easy to assume James Cameron’s Avatar movies are not just dead, but decomposing. But here we are, almost eight years after the original Avatar movie, and the sequels have begun filming, and the budget attached sounds like it came straight out of a Bond villain’s mouth: $1 billion.
Deadline is reporting that Cameron began production this week on the four – yes, four – sequels, which are to be shot in succession with that ten-digit budget.
With four movies in the hopper, it’s impossible to say with any certainty if the movies will release on time, but all four are scheduled for release over the next eight years:
- Avatar 2 – December 18, 2020
- Avatar 3 – December 17, 2021
- Avatar 4 – December 20, 2024
- Avatar 5 – December 19, 2025
There’s a lot to unpack here. $1 billion is a huge number by any measure, but any four effects-fueled blockbusters would likely cost as much when piled on top of each other. Captain America: Civil War, for example, had an estimated budget of $250 million on its own. It’s also worth noting that Cameron has directed some of the biggest movies of all time, including not just the first Avatar film, which raked in $760 million in the U.S. alone, but Titanic and Terminator 2: Judgment Day as well. It’s easy to dismiss Cameron as an old kook, but he has the track record to make a budget like this seem almost sensible.
At the same time, some questions linger.
By the time Avatar 2 is up on screens, it’ll have been exactly 11 years (to the day) since the original. It’s one thing to reboot a franchise like George Miller did with Mad Max: Fury Road, but a direct sequel after so long is a tougher sell.
Further, the 3D technology that made the original memorable has largely been left behind by Hollywood and moviegoing audiences alike, though Cameron wants to show the movie in glasses-free 3D, which is still a novel concept as far as big screens go.
We have a wary eye on Cameron and the Avatar films. We’re looking forward to hearing more over the next few years as the December 2020 release date approaches.