Hear Me Out: Why Disney Should Release Avatar 3 In 2023

The Na'vi in Avatar 2
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

For all who doubted the power of Avatar: The Way of Water to deliver a crowd as a new movie release, the numbers are starting to tell a story that the naysayers wish weren’t true. As the second of James Cameron’s sci-fi epics has posted $17 million in early Thursday showings alone, some record-breaking weekend excitement could be in order. Should this be the case, I think it’s time for Disney to bet big and go against the pattern that this series has followed in its history of delays. 

In other words, it’s time to think about moving Avatar 3’s release date to this same time in 2023. Some of you out there might think I’m being ridiculous, as the next sequel isn’t due out until December 2024. However, there are some points I’d like to throw into the conversation that have me convinced this is a really good idea. With that in mind, please enjoy why 20th Century Studios needs to book Avatar 3’s return trip to Pandora sooner than expected. 

X-Wing shooting at TIE Fighter in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

The Star Wars/Avatar Schedule Has Been Derailed

A couple of years ago, a major release strategy was defined that had Disney pledging to release a new Avatar movie every other December. In concert with a similar slate that would fill in the gaps with a fresh entry in the Star Wars universe on a biennial basis, it looked like the studio had the end of the year locked down tight. 

Of course, that was before Patty JenkinsRogue Squadron was removed from 2023’s schedule, a major signal that the cinematic portion of the franchise has become derailed. Now that Star Wars is currently a big question mark when it comes to its theatrical endeavors, Disney could have holes in its schedule through the next couple of years. 

While there’s still time to right the ship over time, the immediate future could provide a proper stop gap for further Star Wars development. Aided by pushing Avatar 3 into the December 2023 slot that Star Wars: Rogue Squadron once occupied, Disney would buy itself that sort of time.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Disney Is Getting Used To Holiday Mega Hits

During the Sequel Trilogy’s reign, Star Wars was a major money maker for Disney, especially when events like the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens set brand-new records to be beaten. There’s a chance that thanks to its long-awaited return, Avatar: The Way of Water might be able to replicate those results. 

Were that to be the case, it’d be even more proof that Disney is getting used to programming mega hits around the holidays. Avatar 3 is the closest thing to a surefire victory that the studio has in the pipeline that would fit the bill.

While other major motion pictures are already slotted in that release date, you can almost be certain that Disney could make the ultimate power move by releasing another Avatar movie in 2023. Putting the next trip to Pandora in that space on the calendar would more than likely shoo off anyone who attempts to lay claim to that weekend, and the likelihood of this possibility is helped along by another key advantage.

James Cameron working on Avatar: The Way of Water set

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Avatar 3 Is Already Filmed, And In Post Production

At the moment, James Cameron’s estimate for Avatar 3’s release puts the next chapter only two years out from theatrical release. That’s because while filming The Way of Water, Cameron and his team captured the physical performances they’d need for Avatar 3 and part of Avatar 4

Having an entire movie filmed is a good sign for how this strategy could play out, as the continued production of the franchise has kept everything relatively on the rails. Though Avatar: The Way of Water found itself delayed a year out of its intended 2021 window, having the first sequel in theaters establishes a good foundation for the future of James Cameron’s series.

There might even be marketing strategies already in place for the next couple of movies to keep those wheels turning efficiently. So it doesn’t feel that strange for Avatar 3 to be ready a little ahead of schedule, especially after how many years have passed since production on the sequels began.

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

(Image credit: Disney)

An Earlier Release Strategy Would Reward Avatar’s Loyal Fanbase

The history of Avatar 2 delays is officially over, with 13 years between the release of the 2009 franchise starter and its latest installment. Should all go according to plan, the expected two-year gaps between each new Avatar film would mean things are business as usual for the sequels to come. 

That being said, what better way to celebrate the loyalty of the audience who might continue building the saga as a box office powerhouse than to put the pedal to the metal and get Avatar 3 into theaters sooner? It’s almost surprising that with as far along as the second sequel is, James Cameron and his team didn’t include a scene from the next film at the end of The Way of Water

Surely a clip reel of what’s to come could have been attached, so as to further tease the appetites of those wanting more. Should Disney decide to try and release Avatar 3 next December, that wouldn’t be necessary, as all anyone would need to get in line is the title for the next movie and the brand-new release date to get hyped over.

This weekend will be the ultimate test of Avatar: The Way of Water’s fortunes. If it succeeds, then the franchise could see the decision making process trying to accelerate its future plans to dive in deeper while the water’s fine. Should the results be the least bit tepid, you can be sure that attention will only look at the current plans in hopes that minor changes can be made to claw back what’s been missed.

It’s a lot to think about, so we’ll all have to keep a close eye on the box office results in the coming days. If you’re ready to support the Avatar saga, you can see The Way of Water in theaters now! Or, if you want to take a brief refresher in Pandoran history, you can rewatch the 2009 origin story as part of your Disney+ subscription

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.