James Cameron Opens Up About Releasing Avatar 2 Over A Decade After The Original And Why He Thinks It Will Work

Sam Worthington's Jake Sully Na'vi in Avatar: The Way Of Water 2022 film
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

When moviegoers were introduced to Avatar in 2009, the original Avengers had yet to be assembled, the Star Wars sequel trilogy wasn’t even a twinkle in Lucasfilm's eye, nor the Jurassic World trilogy for Universal, each of which have since come and gone. As Avatar: The Way of Water gets closer to release, one might wonder whether audiences are ready for a sequel after so many years since the original’s release. However, James Cameron has a solid reason as to why he thinks it will work. 

When Avatar filmmaker James Cameron was asked if he was concerned about the 13-year gap between the first Avatar and The Way of Water, which is toward the end of 2022's schedule of movies, he provided some sound reasoning derived from his own personal experiences with sequels. Cameron explained this to NYT, saying:

I think I could have made a sequel two years later and have it bomb because people didn’t relate to the characters or the direction of the film. My personal experience goes like this: I made a sequel called ‘Aliens,’ seven years after the first movie. It was very well received. I made a sequel called ‘Terminator 2,’ seven years after the first movie. It did an order of magnitude of more, in revenue, than the first film. I was a little concerned that I had stretched the tether too far, in our fast-paced, modern world, with ‘Avatar 2’ coming in 12 years later. Right until we dropped the teaser trailer, and we got 148 million views in 24 hours. There’s that scarce seen but wondered at principle, which is, Wow, we haven’t seen that in a long time, but I remember how cool it was back then. Does that play in our favor? I don’t know. I guess we’re going to find out.

He’s right because, when the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water hit the internet in May, it immediately went viral. The trailer earned 148.6 million views within 24 hours according to THR and beat out recent Star Wars teasers in viewership. As James Cameron shared, it shows that a lot of people remember his sci-fi epic being such a big film in 2009 and are curious about what will happen next. Additionally, the filmmaker reminds us that his other famed sequels, Aliens and Terminator 2, were massive successes despite the long gap between their respective original movies. 

Before The Way of Water hits theaters later this year, we might get a glimpse of the interest in the franchise when the original Avatar returns to theaters on September 23. The movie is being re-released in a 4K High Dynamic Range print. This will provide an avenue for audiences to reacquaint themselves with the film's storyline, and it can also, of course, forward the lifetime box office total of the film, which is already the highest-grossing movie of all time. 

From what we know about Avatar 2 so far, the sequel will follow Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri as they build their own family on Pandora. Among the returning cast is Sigourney Weaver, who is playing a teenage Na’vi character, which she has admitted was the “biggest stretch” of a role for her. Kate Winslet, Michelle Yeoh and Jermaine Clement are also among the new cast. 

CinemaBlend had the chance to attend the D23 Expo last week and see six scenes from Avatar: The Way Of Water. We certainly will see whether James Cameron’s vision will inspire audiences to return to Pandora, not only for this sequel but for his two other planned sequels. The first of the three films hits theaters on December 16. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.