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Zoe Saldana as Neytiri

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The Avatar franchise is a unique one. The first movie broke new ground for visual effects and motion capture when it arrived in theaters back in 2009. It was the highest grossing movie before Avengers: Endgame was released, and James Cameron and company are likely aiming to reclaim that record with Avatar 2. The upcoming sequels have taken a long time to kick up production, so when film sets all over the world were shut down, it was discouraging for the fandom. But now it looks like Cameron and company may be able to get back to work soon.

Avatar's sequels are being filmed in New Zealand, which has been affected by the ongoing global health concerns in a very different way. The country's national government has reportedly approved of health and safety production protocols for film sets, which should allow for halted projects like the Avatar movies to kick back up again. So while there's no timeline for when projects filming in the United States will resume productions, James Cameron may be able to continue as planned with his highly-anticipated blockbuster.

This latest update comes to us from Deadline, after communicating with the New Zealand Film Commission. What's more, it turns out that some other TV and film shoots within New Zealand have already begun. But perhaps the most high-profile projects currently shooting are the Avatar sequels and Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings series. This green light might indicate that they're both ready to kick back up production, once the cast and crew travel back to the set.

This news is sure to be a relief to moviegoers that have already been waiting years to return to Pandora in Avatar 2. It's been a decade and change since the first movie hit theaters, and the sequels have already been delayed a number of times. So when the set was shut down while James Cameron was filming the movie's live-action sequences, it seemed like disaster. But perhaps Avatar 2 will meet its intended release date after all.

Cinephiles can re-watch Avatar on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

After the set was shut down, work did reportedly continue for the Avatar sequels. Much of the movie is dependent on cutting edge visual effects, which will bring the Na'vi and world of Pandora to life. Said effects have continued to be worked on despite the movie's delay in filming, which should help James Cameron and Disney/20th Century Studios to deliver the finished product on time.

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Avatar 2 is still a year and a half away from hitting theaters, so there's plenty of time to complete its theatrical cut. And if production is safe to kick back up in New Zealand, they should be set up fro success. Considering how many movies are already being delayed, this is a much welcomed message of hope for the film industry.

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