James Cameron Tells Us When We Probably Can Expect To See Avatar 3

When you sit down to watch the long awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, it feels like not a day has passed since walking out of director James Cameron’s first installment in 2009. Of course, the all too present reality is that it’s been 13 years since audiences first traveled to Pandora, with this new movie release being delayed quite often in the process. Fans shouldn’t worry about another decade or so passing when it comes to Avatar 3, as Cameron himself has admitted that it’s on a pretty set path for a much shorter arrival. 

Speaking with CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell during the London press day, the legendary sci-fi writer/director set a pretty firm timeline for debuting the next Avatar movie. 20th Century Studios will probably be very excited to hear this news, as this is how James Cameron laid out the past couple of years in the franchise’s production cycle, and where it puts Avatar 3:

It’s been five years of basically unbroken production, right? So we started in September 2017, and we made/essentially completed all production photography and capture on two, basically two and a half movies: [Avatar] 2, 3, the first part of 4. And then we posted [The Way of Water], and now we’re going to post 3. So it won’t be 13 years until the next one. If everything works out, it should be only another two years. So that’s nothing.

When production kicked off on this first Avatar sequel, James Cameron was pretty much playing for keeps. Upon completing the filming for The Way of Water, he wowed the world by admitting that Avatar 3 was 90% filmed back in 2020, with part of the fourth installment in the can at that point as well. Plans for these follow-up stories weren’t just nebulous flights of fancy, as the series is currently laid out into its fifth chapter, slated for a December 2028 release. And that's not even taking into account an additional two stories that Cameron is toying around with the early stages of.

The "go, go, go" pacing was pretty much baked into the filming process from the jump, as the first two Avatar sequels were treated like a “six-hour miniseries.” Shooting the second and third movies together was a necessity, as the availability of the cast and locations were heavily factored into all the decision making. While the budgets may be wild, James Cameron isn’t spending this sort of money without some sort of strategy to maximize each cent.  

Nowhere is that felt more than the fact that we shouldn’t be waiting over ten years for Jake Sully’s continuing story to unfold. Avatar’s roadmap is a result of careful structure, the assembly of a writer’s room to hammer home a specific vision, and James Cameron’s careful stewardship of this dream. Developing the technologies to tell these stories, and the themes that would be carried out through those tales, wasn't an easy or brief feat.

Those that have kept the faith for so long are about to see whether their patience has been rewarded; and the early response to The Way of Water’s first screenings seems to suggest that’s exactly the sort of investment that’s going to be cashed in. If all goes as planned, the question won’t be will the next Avatar film arrive on time, but rather could it be pushed up to meet the insane fan demand? 

Avatar 3 may be a two year wait away, but that’s ok. Fans who are anticipating their return tickets to Pandora only need to wait a little longer, as Avatar: The Way of Water will be debuting in early shows on December 15th. And if you want to take it all the way back to the beginning of the story, James Cameron’s original Avatar has just been added back to the library that Disney+ subscription holders can access. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.