Who here remembers Avatar? Surely, with the amount of money it made, and the hearts and minds it won back in 2009, there's a healthy fan base that's still awaiting the oft delayed sequels. At least, that's what James Cameron and 20th Century Fox are hoping, as what was originally planned as a trilogy became a four film epic that all parties involved are hoping will be rewarding both in the sense of storytelling, and in box office dollars.
James Cameron spoke to this point with Variety, as they caught up with him during this weekend's San Diego Comic Con. While Cameron was on hand for the 30th anniversary celebration for Aliens, the legendary director also talked about a Blu-ray release for The Abyss, as well as the three anticipated Avatar sequels that were originally set to be released starting back in 2014, and are now looking to drop between 2018 and 2020. And yet, through all of the complications, James Cameron feels theAvatar story arc needs this many sequels to resolve itself, all thanks to the following reasons:
The Avatar story arc was originally meant to be a trilogy, but I overwrite, and my writers overwrote as well. But basically the first of the sequels cloned itself and became two films, so now it's four films. And the studio's very happy with it. They have an opportunity to make more money, but it's also an opportunity to spend a lot more money, too, so there's a clench factor.
So obviously, there's two camps that stand to benefit from Avatar 2 through Avatar 4 making it to the multiplexes. With the record for the highest grossing film on the worldwide stage, and the ability to hold onto that title for almost 10 years, Avatar seems like a bulletproof franchise. And with the time in-between the first installment and this new trilogy of follow-ups, James Cameron and the Fox brass are more than likely looking to cash in big time, as there's none of the usual franchise fatigue wearing down on Pandora and its denizens. Yet with all of this talk about fulfilling story arcs and Fox looking to gamble the big one, there's still a chance this could severely backfire.
For as little franchise fatigue that Avatar is feeling right now, there's also a good chance that the needle could swing the other way. Again, almost a decade has passed since Avatar was a smash hit at the box office, and the world has more than changed at the movies, with Marvel and DC slugging it out whenever Star Wars and other big franchises in the making aren't already crowding out the box office. The world has gotten a lot smaller, despite the growth of Avatar's world, and audiences aren't guaranteed to return to Pandora as willingly as they would have back in 2010, or even 2014 for that matter.
The wait for Avatar 2 is officially more prolific than news about the actual film itself. Should Avatar 2 continue on the path it's set out for itself, we should be seeing it in theaters at some point in 2018. If that happens, we'll be more than eager to see whether it lands on its feet, or flies off of Toruk Nakto in the eyes of the audience, as both prospects seem equally likely at this moment.