Avatar 3: Release Date, Cast And Everything We Know About The Way Of Water Sequel

Lo'ak sits on top of a hidden Payakan in Avatar The Way of Water
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

In December 2022, audiences finally returned to Pandora and resumed the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family with Avatar: The Way of Water, the massively successful sequel to Avatar, one of the best films of the 2000s. The movie received heaps of praise from critics and brought in a ton of cash at the box office, while also setting things up for the next few installments in the visually stunning franchise will one day get a sequel, further expanding Cameron’s engrossing alien planet. 

When will Avatar 3 come out, who is set to appear in the threequel, and what is the future like for the franchise moving forward are all questions that we will answer about the upcoming James Cameron blockbuster. Here is everything we know about the anticipated movie.

What Is The Avatar 3 Release Date?

Jake teaching his kid to use a bow and arrow in Avatar 2

(Image credit: Disney)

Fans won’t have to wait a staggering 13 years before they get to see the follow-up to The Way of Water, as Avatar 3 is slated to open in theaters on December 19, 2025, according to The Hollywood Reporter. James Cameron’s threequel, which was scheduled to open in December 2024, was just one of many theatrical releases rescheduled by Disney in June 2023.

Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña And Sigourney Weaver Are Part Of The Avatar 3 Cast

Avatar 2: The Way of Water screenshot

(Image credit: Fox/Disney)

When Avatar 3 does arrive in theaters, it will see the return of many of the cast members from its first two installments, as reported by Deadline way back in 2014, more than a decade before its eventual release. Here’s who we can expect to see upon our return to Pandora.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

Sam Worthington in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Sam Worthington has been a part of the franchise since the very beginning with his portrayal of Jake Sully, a former human who permanently transferred his mind and soul into his avatar in the first film.

Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri

Zoe Saldana in Avatar.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Zoe Saldaña, who has starred in some of the most successful franchises of all time, will be back in the fold once more as Neytiri, Jake’s longtime spouse. 

Sigourney Weaver as Kri

Sigourney Weaver in Avatar 2

(Image credit: Disney)

Sigourney Weaver will return to play Kiri, Dr. Grace Augustinne’s Na’vi daughter who was later adopted and raised as one of Jake and Neytiri’s own.

Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch

Stephen Lang in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Stephen Lang’s Colonel Miles Quaritch, who can be seen as the franchise’s major antagonist, will once again be giving the Na’vi a hard time in Avatar 3. Perhaps he’ll further explore his own new identity after being transferred into an avatar following his human death.

Kate Winslet As Ronal

Kate Winslet as Ronal in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: Disney)

Kate Winslet made news for her impressive free-diving in her portrayal of Ronal in Avatar: The Way of Water. The actress, who previously worked with James Cameron on Titanic, will be back again, per Deadline.

Cliff Curtis as Tonowari

Cliff Curtis in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Tonowari, Ronal’s husband and the leader of the Metkayina clan introduced in Avatar: The Way of Water, will also be back in the upcoming sequel, picking up where he left off in James Cameron’s massive 2022 adventure film.

Edie Falco as General Frances Ardmore

Edie Falco in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Edie Falco, who joined the franchise as General Frances Ardmore in Avatar: The Way of Water, will once again be leading the RDA’s efforts on Pandora, as the actress signed on to portray the character in the various sequels back in 2019, per Deadline.

The movie will also see the return of other characters introduced to the franchise in Avatar: The Way of Water including the child actors who played Jake and Neytiri’s children.

Avatar 3 Will Introduce A New, Darker Culture Known As The ‘Ash People’

Zoe Saldana in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: Disney)

James Cameron’s first Avatar movie introduced audiences around the world to the forest-dwelling Omaticaya clan, with the water-dwelling Metkayina becoming a major part of The Way of Water 13 years later. While both of these tribes were protective of their communities and the diverse ecosystems that allowed them to flourish, they were mostly well-meaning Na’vi. But as the visionary filmmaker told French publication 20 Minutes in January 2023, the upcoming threequel will introduce a darker and more sinister group:

Different cultures from those I have already shown. The fire will be represented by the 'Ash People.' I want to show the Na’vi from another angle because, so far, I have only shown their good sides. In the early films, there are very negative human examples and very positive Navi's examples. In Avatar 3, we'll do the reverse.

Cameron stressed that the movie, and various other sequels, will still focus on the characters we’ve come to know in the first two Avatar chapters, but also continue to introduce “new universes” and dynamics to the sprawling narrative. 

Though we don’t know a lot about this new clan at the heart of Avatar 3, it has also been revealed that Game of Thrones alum Oona Chaplin will be playing the “Ash People” leader. 

Avatar 3 Will Deal With The Fallout Of The Way Of Water’s Ending

Jake and Neytiri in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Though more than a decade passed between the events of Avatar and The Way of Water, both in the movie’s chronology and in real life, the two films were connected by various relationships and world-changing events. Judging by comments made by producer Jon Landau during a January 2023 interview with Empire magazine, it will be a similar situation with the upcoming sequel.

The Avatar: The Way of Water ending wasn’t without its gut-wrenching moments, especially with Jake and Neytiri losing their oldest son Neyeyam, who sacrificed himself to save his siblings and other children under attack by the human forces. That element, and the way things ended for other characters, will be a big part of the upcoming movie, as Landau stated:

Hopefully, The Way Of Water came to its own conclusion, as I think each movie will. But they do set things up because we get more and more invested in these characters. Where does Kiri go? What is Lo’ak up to? What decisions will Jake and Neytiri have to make? All of those things will continue to drive our story.

Landau also revealed that Payakan, the whale-like tulkun creature that befriends Lo’ak, will have a plotline where his bond with Jake and Neytiri’s son is explored further.

Avatar 3 And 4 Were Partially Filmed Alongside The Way Of Water

Kate Winslet's Ronal and Sam Worthington's Jake Sully surrounded by other Na'vi in Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Filming movies with the scale of Avatar is one thing, but planning multiple sequels and then having to work within the limitations of a global pandemic made the process all the more challenging for Cameron and his team. One way the filmmaker got the most out of his time and that of his cast and crew was by filming portions of the third and fourth movies alongside Avatar: The Way of Water, as he revealed during a 2021 conversation with Denis Villeneuve as part of Variety’s “Directors on Directors” series.

At one point in the discussion, Cameron revealed that anything with a specific actor that appeared in both the second and third movies was filmed together when possible and that a small portion of the fourth movie was shot during that time so that they could film the child actors before their characters aged out partway through the sequel.  

Avatar 3 Is ‘Pretty Much In The Can,’ But James Cameron Has Said More Shooting Will Take Place In 2024

Sam Worthington's Jake Sully Na'vi in Avatar: The Way Of Water 2022 film

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Even though a lot of Avatar 3 was filmed years ago, there is still a small portion of the movie that needs to be completed before it can open in theaters. When speaking with ScreenRant at the Saturn Awards in January 2024, James Cameron opened up about the upcoming project and how much of the production had been completed, stating:

It’s pretty much in the can. We’re shooting pick-ups on [Avatar 3], which is just filling in the last 2 or 3%, and we’ve also got live-action pick-ups in June, that's another couple percent. We've got about a quarter of [Avatar 4] in the can. We’re post on [Avatar 3] and now doing the VFX, which is an enormous job. I’ll need every second between now and then to get it done.

This is a major step from comments Cameron made in a December 2021 conversation with Denis Villeneuve for Variety where he described the production as “a bit shadowy.” At that time, the filmmaker hadn’t started the editing process, which would explain his “shadowy” answer. 

Despite Rumors, James Cameron Has Said Avatar 3 Will Not Be A Nine-Hour Film

Shot from Avatar: The Way of Water

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

James Cameron has a reputation for making long movies – only two of his nine films have runtimes under two hours (Piranha II and The Terminator) – with several of his most popular and successful releases being three-plus hours apiece. However, there have been rumors floating around that Avatar 3, or whatever it ends up being called, had a nine-hour rough cut, which, even with some material trimmed, would be an extremely long movie. At the 2024 Saturn Awards, Cameron addressed the matter with Temple of Geek:

There is no nine-hour rough cut! If I ever…I would put a shotgun in my mouth if I ever did a nine-hour rough cut. No, what I said was it’s nine hours of material, meaning Avatar 3, Avatar 4 and Avatar 5. That’s, you know, 3 hours a movie. Somehow that turned into a nine-hour… Can you imagine? He would shoot me [pointing at producer Jon Landau].

If that ends up being the case and Avatar 3 is three hours long, then it would be right up there with The Way of Water’s massive runtime, which, as noted above, is on brand for Cameron and his epic sci-fi films.

There is still a lot we don’t know about Avatar 3, including its title, details about its story, and a look at the new part of Pandora that will be explored. But expect that to change as the release date comes closer. While you wait, don’t forget to check out the 2024 movie schedule to see what other blockbusters are in store this year. 

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.