James Cameron Defends Avatar's Lengthy Filming, Says Movies Are 'Right On Schedule'

Neytiri in Avatar

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James Cameron is a prolific filmmaker, behind modern classics like Titanic, The Terminator, True Lies, and more recently Avatar. Cameron's 2009 blockbuster showed what visual effects and motion capture technology was truly capable of, with Avatar making an insane amount of money at the box office. In fact, it was only recently dethroned by Avengers: Endgame as the highest grossing movie of all time. The road to Avatar's sequels has been a long one, but according to Cameron himself the sequels are just on time.

It's already been a decade since Avatar arrived in theaters and became a pop culture phenomenon. Given its box office appeal, the sequels seemed inevitable. But James Cameron has taken his time developing up to four more movies, going all the way to Avatar 5. He recently defended the sequels' long road to theaters, saying:

From 2013 until now we’ve mostly designed the whole world across four new movies. We’ve written, finished scripts for all four of those films. We’ve cast them, and we’ve [performance] captured movie 2, movie 3, and the first part of movie 4. We’re mostly done with the live-action. I’ve got a couple months in New Zealand in spring, so we’re kind of on track with what we set out to do.

Well, that is a bit reassuring. Despite how long its taken for Avatar 2 to finally head to theaters, it does seem like James Cameron and company have been getting work done on future installments in the sci-fi franchise. So it looks like they might become a reality after all.

The wait for Avatar's sequels, especially Avatar 2, has been a long and excruciating one for fans of James Cameron's colorful world of Pandora. The franchise became a pop culture sensation after the first movie's release, as countless moviegoers ran to theaters to see the stunning visuals on the big screen. What's more, Avatar has even been given its own section of Disney's theme parks. While this has helped keep fan interest, it's still been a long ten years since the property has occupied theaters.

As moviegoers continues waiting for the sequels, fans can rewatch the original Avatar on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial of the streaming service.

In his same conversation with Variety, James Cameron went into more detail about the discrepancy between fan expectations and the actual process of crafting these massive CGI dominated blockbusters. As acclaimed filmmaker put it,

People don’t really understand the scope and complexity of the process. It’s like making two and a half big animated films. A typical big animated film takes about four years, so, if you do the math on that, we’re kind of right on schedule for December 2021.

Related: Avatar 2 Sneak Peek: Sequels Celebrate End Of 2019 Filming With Huge Set Photo

Well, I guess that does make sense. Filming and editing an Avatar movie isn't like making a traditional action flick. Motion capture and visual effects take a great deal of time, at least if you want them done properly. And as such, James Cameron believes he's right on schedule for the Avatar films, since he's been working on all of them at once. He hasn't spent a decade on just Avatar 2, but the entire franchise. And he's clearly got big plans.

Avatar 2 is currently set to arrive in theaters on December 17th, 2021. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.