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Wait, James Cameron Might Not Direct Future Avatar Sequels?

Sam Worthington in Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

After years in development hell as James Cameron tried to write two Avatar sequels, that became four Avatar sequels. The follow-up to the highest grossing movie of all-time is finally almost here. Fans are looking forward to Avatar: The Way of Water, as well as Avatar 3, which was filmed concurrently. Then the franchise will move to film Avatar 4 and Avatar 5, but it may do so without James Cameron. 

In a recent interview with Empire, James Cameron admits that the production of the Avatar sequels is something that takes up all of his time, and he's going to have to choose between making more Avatar movies, and doing all the other things that he wants to do with his time. He stops short of saying he won't direct the next two movies, but indicates the thought is on his mind. Cameron says...

The Avatar films themselves are kind of all-consuming. I’ve got some other things I’m developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time – I don’t know if that’s after three or after four – I’ll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I’m also interested in. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

This is a potentially shocking turn of events, on par with Steven Spielberg's decision not to direct Indiana Jones 5. In both cases were talking about movie franchises that are strongly attached to their directors. They're the creators of the projects and it's hard to believe they would let somebody else takeover.

The plan, as far as we knew it, was for Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 to be filmed together in the same way that the parts two and three were. It sounds like this idea is also in flux as James Cameron suggest he might still direct part four but not five, indicating they could be handled separately. Or perhaps he could find a director willing to take on both sequels.

It wouldn't be the first time James Cameron handed off a project he planned to direct. Alita: Battle Angel was a movie Cameron always planned to helm himself, but he ultimately gave directorial duties to Robert Rodriguez, while remaining as a producer. Cameron would almost certainly do the same thing here, and the script would still be his, but with a different director some things would almost certainly change from Cameron's original vision. 

Clearly, James Cameron isn't sure how he feels here. One can assume that he wants to direct all the Avatar movies himself, but Cameron is a guy who has a lot of interests and directing movies is only one of them. In the end, he'll just have to figure out what it is that he wants most. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

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