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The science fiction genre is about to get a serious shot in the arm at the box office. Not only have the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises returned to their former glories, but James Cameron has also recently announced that we will receive no less than four Avatar sequels within the next decade. With so much glorious sci-fi about to grace our screens, a showdown between these two franchises seems inevitable. James Cameron seems to have realized potential risks of going up against Star Wars at the box office in the coming years, and has taken specific steps to avoid that scenario.
Speaking with Famous Monsters of Filmland, James Cameron admitted that the release schedule of his Avatar sequels was planned in a way that avoids potential conflict with the Star Wars franchise:
My original plan was to release them a year apart, but we’re opening that up. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to land on the same date as one of the STAR WARS sequels. That wouldn’t be fair to them. [Laughs] No, that’s just good business. I don’t want to go head-to-head with STAR WARS. That would be stupid. And hopefully they won’t want to go head to head with us.
So it seems that his original game plan involved releasing each of his four upcoming Avatar sequels apart from one another. However, he now seems increasingly willing to alter that game plan and change things up. This is specifically to avoid conflict with the Star Wars sequels, which will operate with a similar release schedule. He makes a crack about not wanting to pummel George Lucas’ iconic saga at the box office, but then backtracks to simply refer to such competition as bad business for all involved.
Although he’s clearly joking and making light of the situation, he does so with the nervous tone of someone about to bungee jump or sky dive. He seems pretty firmly aware of the fact that sending an Avatar sequel up against a Star Wars sequel will end well for nobody. The two would very likely siphon off each other’s profits, and no matter who comes out on top (hint: Star Wars probably would) both films would inevitably suffer. Think of it like a game of chicken; James Cameron is backing off because he knows that billons of dollars are potentially at stake.
Although the original Avatar has a serious box office reputation, it's sequels might not be able to compete with Star Wars if the two series faced off in the near future. It's be a curious experiment, at the very least. The Avatar series remains on unstable ground as it is, with many people balking at the idea that James Cameron has four sequels planned that almost nobody has asked for. By contrast, the newly rejuvenated Star Wars franchise has a ton of momentum on its side, and the newly adopted cinematic universe format seems like a natural fit. This doesn’t mean that an Avatar sequel would fail if it went up against Star Wars. But James Cameron is very clearly not an idiot.
We will keep you up to date regarding the potential conflict between these two franchises as more information becomes available. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters on December 15 2016, and Avatar 2 is slated to hit theaters in December 2018.