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James Cameron Is Already Defending Avatar 2’s Long Runtime

These days it’s become common practice for big movies to also be long movies. When a major tentpole release comes along, it’s expected that the movie will exceed two hours in length, it’s just a question of by how much. The original Avatar was two hours and 40 minutes long itself, and so there’s every expectation that sequel Avatar: The Way of Water probably will be too. James Cameron doesn’t deny that, but he doesn’t want to hear complaints about it.

While we don’t know how long the runtime for Avatar 2 will be, all signs point to it being on the longer side. That’s the way the last Avatar movie was. That’s how James Cameron tends to work. That’s how the current landscape is. We honestly get surprised when these movies, like Thor: Love & Thunder, aren’t super long. However, if Avatar: The Way of Water ends up being longer than Avengers: Endgame, Cameron doesn’t care and doesn’t want to hear complaints. He tells Empire (via Slashfilm) that people shouldn’t have a problem watching movies, and it’s ok for them to get up if they need to. Cameron says…

I don't want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours ... I can almost write this part of the review. 'The agonizingly long three-hour movie...' It's like, give me a f---ing break. I've watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here's the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it's okay to get up and go pee.

James Cameron is certainly right that in the era of binge-watching, sitting in front of the screen for three hours or more is far from uncommon. If anything, binge-watching has become the norm for series watching thanks to streaming. At the same time, while we officially have James Cameron’s permission to use the bathroom during his movies, it’s not that simple. When you’re watching Stranger Things at home, especially the extra long episodes,  you can pause the show whenever you need to take a moment, but that option simply isn’t available for a theatrical film.

When fans watch Avatar: The Way of Water the first time they won’t want to get up because they won’t know when the most important stuff in the movie is happening. People might miss key plot information or a beautiful scene of alien life or an awesome action sequence. And the stuff they miss could end up being really important for the three additional Avatar movies that are on the way

Whether Avatar 2 is “agonizingly long” or not will have less to do with its final runtime than the film itself. If people love the movie then the runtime likely won’t be an issue. People had very public thoughts about the runtime of Avengers: Endgame before it came out, but the runtime was rarely a major issue for the movie itself. If Avatar: The Way of Water is a massive hit in the way the original Avatar was, people will likely only be happy with a long runtime, as it simply means more of a great movie. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.