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James Cameron Reveals How Much Of Avatar 3 And 4 Has Already Filmed

Neytiri in Avatar
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios/ Disney)

We're just about a year away from the long awaited Avatar 2. It's been more than a decade since the first movie became the highest grossing movie of all time. Since then James Cameron's plans for the franchise have only increased. We're now expecting four additional movies to come out over the next several years, and the director has finally revealed exactly what has been shot so far. And more interestingly, why. We also know what the status of the existing footage actually is.

We were told that the plan was to film Avatar 2 and 3 at the same time, then to come back and film the final two movies later. That’s mostly what happened, though we know some amount of Avatar 4 was also filmed in this first batch. In a conversation with fellow director Denis Villeneuve for Variety, Cameron reveals that the next movie is actually done, while Avatar 3 still has some work to be completed. Cameron says…

2 is fully in the can. We have a working cut that we're filling in the visual effects within. I feel pretty confident with that film. 3 is still a bit shadowy. It's way too long. I haven't really turned my energy into a disciplined cutting process on that yet. But I know I've got the performances. That's the important thing. I've done all the capture. I've done most of the live-action shooting. I still owe a little bit on some of the adult characters. We were more concerned with the kids aging out.

It’s not actually that surprising to learn that Avatar 2 is done. While the sequel has had a host of release dates over the last several years, the one the movie was shooting for during most of its production would have seen the film released this weekend. Had there not been a global pandemic, preview audience would be sitting down to watch Avatar 2 for the first time tonight

Avatar 3 is set to come out two years after Avatar 2, which currently means December of 2024. So the fact that he’s got a bit of live-action filming left to do is no big deal. With all the performance capture complete that means the post-production teams have almost everything they need to work with, which will keep them busy for the next three years.  The biggest problem appears to be one of editing.

Why James Cameron Has Already Filmed Part Of Avatar 4 

James Cameron had previously revealed that in addition to filming the next two Avatar films, he was also filming a portion of Avatar 4 along with that. He explains here exactly why that was done. It turns out that early in Avatar 4 there will be a time jump of about six years, and so he wanted to get all the scenes with the child actors, at the age they will be in the other two movies, so they didn’t end up too old when filming resumed later. Cameron continues… 

We mixed the schedules for 2 and 3 together, based on the types of scenes and the environments. I said, let's just treat it like it's a six-hour miniseries and we're only going to go to Frankfurt once. We're going to shoot all the scenes from 2 and 3 at the same time. That was more or less the motif. Actor availability was an issue as well. Anything that had to be done with a specific actor, we did all the scenes for 2 and 3 together — and a little bit of 4. Because once again, I had to shoot the kids out. They're allowed to age six years in the middle of the story on page 25 of movie 4. So I needed everything before then, and then everything after, we'll do later.

Avatar 4 is currently set to come out in 2026, and considering the delays that the first two movies have seen, there’s every reason to expect more of that before this is all said and done. And considering how quickly kids age, James Cameron wanted to be sure that his actors didn’t look like they’d aged too much before the script actually calls for them to do so. Hopefully, with Avatar 2 apparently done, we will really see the movie 12 months from now. After all this time it looks like the franchise has figured itself out and has momentum. The Avatar sequels are actually happening.  

Dirk Libbey

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