If there's one positive to be seen, the sequel hasn't yet been hit with a further delay since July 2020, so right now, it looks like Avatar 2 will finally hit cinemas in December 2022 and we'll be able to revisit Pandora.
The last delay came as a result of the current global situation, so you can't fault James Cameron for that one. He's also hard at work on the planned sequels too, but whether we'll see Avatar 5 is another question entirely.
Before we get ahead of ourselves too much though, here's everything you need to know about Avatar 2.
Avatar 2 release date: When will Avatar 2 be out cinemas?
To cut a long story short, Avatar 2 is finally going to be released on December 22, 2022, having been pushed back from December 2021.
The latest delay was a result of production being delayed due to the global shutdown, not just the live-action filming in New Zealand, but also the "virtual production work" taking place in Los Angeles.
In September 2020, Cameron revealed that they were "100% complete" on Avatar 2 and around 95% finished on Avatar 3. This is likely just in terms of the live-action filming in New Zealand, and not on the complete movie itself.
Like the first movie, there's a lot of virtual production and visual effects needed for the movie, so it's not like Avatar 2 could be released right now, otherwise they wouldn't have delayed by a full year. "Now that doesn't mean I have an extra year to finish the film, because the day we deliver Avatar 2 we'll just start working on finishing Avatar 3," Cameron noted.
As mentioned before, a new Avatar movie will follow every other year all the way until Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028. Well, that's the plan anyway.
Avatar 2 - Why has it taken so long?
If you want the full story of the sequel's long and drawn-out journey to the screen, here goes. Looking back on it, it seems almost absurd that Avatar 2 was scheduled for release in December 2014, and Avatar 3 was scheduled for December 2015.
Those dates got pushed back, you will not be surprised to learn. In April 2016 filming was meant to start on Avatar 2. But April came and went, and filming never got under way. In January the following year, it was announced that work on the motion-capture element of the film would start by August 2017, but it actually began in September.
However, a fourth Avatar movie was announced, which pushed the whole lot back to December 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively. But it's *checks calendar* 2020 and we still haven't got a sequel, let alone three.
All of the sequels were pushed back again, with Avatar 2 planned for December 2017 (and the rest set for 2018 and 2019 presumably). James Cameron blamed the "very involved" writing process for the delays.
The sequel was then set for a December 2020 release before Disney shifted it again to December 2021, after completing the takeover of Fox, and that brings us right up to the latest delay.
Through it all though, Cameron has been completely chilled out about any delays. "It was a seven-year gap between The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, seven-year gap between Alien and Aliens," he said.
Avatar sequel titles: What will Avatar 2 be called?
While we've been calling them Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and so on, there hasn't been any official confirmation on what they will be called.
However, the BBC reported (way back in November 2018) that the films could be called Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa.
Cameron later confirmed are potential titles, but could be subject to change.
Avatar 2 cast: Who will return to Avatar 2?
The core cast of the original Avatar are all on contract, so Cameron's stars will be back in when it finally hits.
Zoe Saldana, who will reprise the role of the Na'vi princess Neytiri, had only just appeared in the Star Trek reboot when she starred in the 2009 original movie, and thanks to projects like Guardians of the Galaxy, she has become the biggest new star to come out of Avatar – as well as cornering the market for playing aliens of various hues.
Sam Worthington will also return as the human-turned-Na'vi Jake Sully, though it's fair to say that his success hasn't mirrored Saldana's.
We were treated to a behind-the-scenes photo of Weaver with producer Jon Landau and Joel David Moore. She championed the new script, saying: "Having read all four of [the Avatar scripts], I think they're absolutely extraordinary and worth the wait."
Not only is Stephen Lang somehow back as the dead Colonel Miles Quaritch, but he's going to be the main villain of the four movies. James Cameron said: "Stephen was so memorable in the first film, we’re privileged to have him back. I'm not going to say exactly HOW we're bringing him back, but it's a science fiction story, after all.
"His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who's also become a good friend."
He also revealed that he'll be able to "really go to town and examine the character in detail" in the sequel (via The National).
Kate Winslet is playing the role of Ronal in all the Avatar films, marking hers and James Cameron's their first collaboration since the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, with Cameron admitting they were "looking for something to do together for 20 years".
Sci-fi goddess Sigourney Weaver will also be back as a wholly new character and has been learning to free dive in preparation for the movie. "It's really the most fun I've had in a long time," Weaver told Yahoo. "I just wish the movies were coming out sooner, because I feel like the world needs more Avatar as soon as possible."
CCH Pounder will also reprise her role Neytiri's mum Mo'at, and Matt Gerald is back as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet. Game of Thrones' Oona Chaplin and Fear the Walking Dead's Cliff Curtis will be joining the sequels, and Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie) is playing the new character General Ardmore.
Meanwhile, EW revealed some of the supporting who'll be playing Sully's family, as well as some children from another Na'vi clan called the Metkayina, who'll be lead by Cliff Curtis. These include Britain Dalton, Filip Geljo, Jamie Flatters, Bailey Bass, Trinity Bliss, Jack Champion, and Duane Evans Jr.
The caption hinted that she'll be in Avatar 3 as well, so expect her to play a significant role in the upcoming movies.
Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel has added another franchise to his CV too as he's joined the sequels, alongside Jemaine Clement as marine biologist Dr Ian Garvin, described by Cameron as "one of my favourite characters".
There was some initial confusion about the inclusion of Harry Potter's David Thewlis to the sequel. It turns out he'll be in Avatar 3 (and 4 and 5) but not the second film.
Avatar 2 plot: What will Avatar 2 be about?
Cameron has teased some details of the plot of Avatar 2 in the years since the first movie, which will deal with 'familial and imprisonment' themes.
The filmmaker has also been keen to point out that the films can all stand on their own, just in case you're one of the three people who didn't see the original.
"Each movie is a standalone movie that we would wanna go see," said producer Jon Landau. "You don't need to have seen the first Avatar to see Avatar 2. It sits there and we're gonna take people on a visual and an emotional journey that comes to its own conclusion."
Set several years after the events of Avatar, Sully is now chieftain and Neytiri high priestess of their clan – although events will apparently focus on their children.
We hear they'll also be journeying beyond the forests of Pandora into underwater and volcanic environments that Cameron promises will make "you shit yourself with your mouth wide open". That's supposed to be a good thing, we think...
To really capture the importance of water, Avatar 2 will film its motion capture scenes underwater.
"It's never been done before and it's very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras," Cameron explained to Collider.
"The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers.
"It's a little bit like a fighter plane dumping a bunch of chaff to confuse the radar system of a missile. It creates thousands of false targets, so we’ve had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did."
Though technological feats are clearly integral to the movie, Landau said of the four sequels: "At the heart of any movie are the characters. One of the strengths of great scripts are always the universal and relatable themes... There's no more relatable theme than family.
"At the centre of each of our four movies will be the Sully family. Each sequel will play as a standalone movie. Each movie's story will come to its own conclusion... However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger connected epic saga for audiences around the world."
There will also be a time jump between the movies to almost match the delay between them as Cameron has confirmed Jake and Neytiri have an 8-year-old daughter together, while teasing that Worthington had to go to "some dark places" for Avatar 2 and 3.
We also know there's been a bespoke sign language created for the movie by Baby Driver's CJ Jones, a deaf actor who's been hired to create a "new Na'vi sign language."
As to the movies' appearance, Cameron promises that they will be so advanced you "just won't be able to imagine" what they're going to look like.
Avatar 2 trailer: Any Avatar 2 footage yet?
Alas, no. But there are a load of fan-made trailers if you need something to tide you over until Avatar 2 hits.
Cameron has been realistic about the probability of seeing the next four Avatar movies – it all depends on how Avatar 2 does at the box office. But Cameron did promise Avatar 3 in 2024 if Avatar 2 is a success.
Avatar 2 is released in cinemas (probably) on December 22, 2022.
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