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Avatar 2 will take us back to Pandora this year... assuming there's not yet another delay to James Cameron's long-awaited sequel.
Originally aimed for a release in 2014, the sequel has kept fans waiting for almost a decade. However, returning Stephen Lang – whose character Quaritch died in the first movie, but we'll get to that – has been assuring fans that it'll be worth the extended wait.
"I think they'll be enchanted and fascinated. Look, there are people who are going to just adore this world," he told EW in August 2021, adding that he can't say anything about the sequel as they'll "cut my balls off if I do".
The sequel has been hit with various release date delays, but the latest was due to circumstances beyond its control. With post-production being affected by the ongoing global situation, the movie was pushed back to December 2022.
As everything seems set for the sequel's release in December 2022, we're starting to get more details, including the first plot teasers. If it arrives this year, it'll kickstart a succession of sequels every other year until Avatar 5 in December 2028.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves too much yet and concentrate on Avatar 2 for now. Here's everything you need to know about the long-delayed sequel to James Cameron's blockbuster.
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 16, 2022, having been pushed back from December 2021 due to the ongoing global health crisis.
The sequel started filming in 2017, but given the movie is a mix of live-action and motion capture elements, it's not a surprise it's taken a while. In September 2020, Cameron revealed that they were "100% complete" on Avatar 2 and around 95% finished on Avatar 3.
Given that we've got three other movies to come, Cameron has been working on all of them in recent years. In December 2021, he revealed he'd already filmed some of Avatar 4 due to the young cast.
"Anything that had to be done with a specific actor, we did all the scenes for 2 and 3 together — and a little bit of 4," he told Variety.
"I had to shoot the kids out. They’re allowed to age six years in the middle of the story on page 25 of movie 4. So I needed everything before then, and then everything after, we'll do later."
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.
After delays filming was meant to start on Avatar 2 in April 2016, but April came and went, and filming never began. 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.
The announcement of a fourth Avatar movie pushed the whole lot back, and then they were all 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 these 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 will reprise the role of the Na'vi princess Neytiri, with Sam Worthington also returning as the human-turned-Na'vi, Jake Sully.
Stephen Lang is back as the dead Colonel Miles Quaritch, and he's going to be the main villain of the four movies. He said that he'll be able to "really go to town and examine the character in detail" in the sequel (via The National).
James Cameron explained: "I'm not going to say exactly HOW we're bringing him back, but it's a science fiction story, after all."
CCH Pounder will also reprise her role Neytiri's mum Mo'at, and Matt Gerald is back as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet, while Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie) is playing the new character General Ardmore.
The sequel will introduce a new Na'vi clan called the Metkayina, led by Fear the Walking Dead's Cliff Curtis as Tonowari. Winslet's character Ronal is also a member of the Metkayina clan, alongside the likes of Bailey Bass's Reya and Duane Evans Jr's Rotxo.
Jake and Neytiri have Na'vi children in the sequel too, including Jamie Flatters's Neteyam, Britain Dalton's Lo'ak and Trinity Bliss's Tuktirey. They have also adopted a human child Miles Socorro, aka Spider, who is played by Jack Champion.
"Jake took him in but Neytiri always saw him as one of the people who destroyed her home and killed her father," producer Jon Landau told Empire. "So you have all these dynamics playing out."
Game of Thrones' Oona Chaplin will play Varang who is said to be a "strong and vibrant central character" that will span all four sequels.
Marvel's Michelle Yeoh has also joined the cast as scientist Dr Karina Mogue and we got our first look at her in action on set in March 2021. 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.
Producer Jon Landau has also explained that each movie (if all four sequels happen, that is) will stand on their own. You don't even need to have seen Avatar to enjoy the sequel apparently.
Set around 14 years after the events of Avatar, Sully is now chieftain and Neytiri high priestess of their clan – although events will focus on their family and children.
"I think the story of Avatar 2, and the strength of the story, is what Jim [Cameron] always does in any of his movies: he writes in universal themes that are bigger than any one genre," Landau explained.
"And if you think about this, there's really no more universal theme than family. At the centre of each of our sequels is the Sully family. What are the dynamics that parents go through to protect their family?"
Into the mix will be the return of the RDA mining operation to Pandora, forcing Jake to take his family to the "perceived safe harbour" at the reef where they meet the Metkayina.
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 filmed its motion-capture scenes underwater.
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. Hopefully the look will be enough to draw fans back to the cinema for the sequel.
"Big, expensive films have got to make a lot of money. We're in a new world post-COVID, post-streaming. Maybe those [box office] numbers will never be seen again. Who knows? It's all a big roll of the dice," admitted Cameron to EW.
Avatar 2 trailer: When will the Avatar 2 trailer be out online?
Alas, so far we have no official trailer. However, 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 he did promise Avatar 3 in 2024 if Avatar 2 is a success.
Avatar 2 will be released on December 16, 2022.
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