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After a decade of talk, I'm still more than a little shocked that Avatar sequels are actually a thing that are really happening. It seemed like these were movies that were going to be stuck in development hell forever. And yet, at least two of the four planned sequels are, barring some disaster, certainly going to happen, as they are currently in production.
While the original Avatar was known for its ground breaking digital effects, essentially the entire movie was a digital effect, a new image from the filming of Avatar 2, or possibly Avatar 3, shows that not everything in the Avatar movies isn't real. James Cameron is filming on a sound stage that's full of real water and real flames. Check it out.
The image was posted to Avatar's official Twitter account and was taken by Jon Landau, James Cameron's longtime production partner. In the middle of the picture, surrounded by what appears to be wreckage, likely a result of whatever caused this fire, we see Cameron himself, with a camera on his shoulder. Many film directors do their work from a distance, but James Cameron has never been one of those. He's in the middle of things getting the shot himself.
The camera that James Cameron is holding is used for native 3D filming. The Avatar films will be one of those rare theatrical animals that doesn't do the conversion to 3D in post-production but actually films the movie that way. There's little argument that when it comes to 3D presentation, filming it in 3D is the better way to go.
The original Avatar was the movie that almost single-handedly started the focus on 3D film releases that have continued to this day. A large part of the reason the original Avatar was likely able to hold on to the worldwide box office crown for so long is because so many of the tickets sold were 3D, more so than your average film release today.
James Cameron has made it known that he's been less than impressed with 3D filmmaking these days, so it's no surprise that he is paying such close attention to the way these new films are being made. Cameron has always been as much a fan of advancing the technology of filmmaking as he is interested in the storytelling aspect.
After waiting for 10 long years you can be sure the expectations for the Avatar sequels are going to be quite high. Avatar 2 is set for release in December of 2021 with Avatar 3 planned for 2023. Originally, production on Avatar 4 and 5 wasn't even going to begin until after Avatar 3 was released, but under the new Disney plan, it seems likely that has changed as the final two films are scheduled for release in 2025 and 2027.
It's been 10 years since the first Avatar movie, but if everything goes to plan, in less than 10 more years, there will be five total Avatar movies.