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The on going coronavirus outbreak has shut down nearly all film and television productions around the world at this point. It means potentially delaying countless films, including some that we've already been waiting more than a decade to see. The massive Avatar production that is covering two complete films, and part of a third, is one that recently had to stop shooting, but producer Jon Landau recently posted a statement to ensure fans that while the planned filming had to be put on hold, there is still work being done.
A couple of days ago, it was revealed that a group of executives had been planning to fly down to the island nation of New Zealand to do some shooting, but that the trip, unsurprisingly, had been cancelled. A lot of flights have been cancelled and New Zealand has some pretty extreme quarantine measures in place, which simply made the trip less than feasible.
The news wasn't particularly shocking, as most major productions have been shutdown as well, but now, producer Jon Landau has posted to his Facebook page, letting fans know that while the filming has shut down, work has not ceased entirely. It seems that "virtual production" as well as digital effects work from Weta Digital, is continuing. According to Landau...
We will continue to work on virtual production in Manhattan Beach and collaborating with Weta Digital on the visual effects; both activities are much more conducive to social distancing than live action photography. We’re doing our part to flatten the curve and encourage you to try to do the same.
Avatar 2 isn't slated to hit theaters for nearly two years, but with production that's focusing on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, and filming being handled in an "all at once" sort of way rather than doing each film back-to-back, it's largely impossible to know just how much of the filming of Avatar 2 is actually done. If it's complete, or close to it, then the fact that post-production is still moving forward, even if it's doing so slowly, makes it more likely that the long delayed film won't miss its current release date.
Certainly, the fact that no live filming can be done right now will cause on a strain on the larger project, but if most of the scenes that are left to be filmed are for movies 4 years away or more, it shouldn't cause any major issues, assuming of course that production is able to pick up again fairly soon and we're not all going stir crazy several months from now.
For the longest time it was far from clear that the Avatar sequels James Cameron kept talking about would ever happen, now, they're actually being made, and yet, we still don't know when we might actually see them.