James Cameron Bummed About Avatar 2 Filming Delay, But Says There's Silver Lining

Jake and Neytiri in Avatar

It’s been a long road getting Avatar 2 to the big screen, and as things stand now, it’s scheduled to arrive in December 2021. However, like so many movies in production, the sequel and the other Avatar movies that were in the midst of filming had to indefinitely pause operations due to the worldwide health concerns. Nevertheless, despite this complication, director James Cameron is optimistic that Avatar 2 will still meet its current release date.

During a recent interview, James Cameron noted how he was planning to fly to New Zealand for a portion of the Avatar 2 shoot back in March when the country went into lockdown, and he’s still unable to travel there. That being said, Cameron is impressed with how New Zealand has been dealing with the ongoing health crisis and is confident he and his team will be able to get back to work relatively soon, thus allowing them to meet that target release date. As Cameron put it:

On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing. So there's a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still do it. So that's good news.

James Cameron’s update lines up nicely with the news that came in last week about how New Zealand’s government has set up health and safety production protocols for film and TV sets, with some shoots having already resumed. So it is indeed possible that the Avatar sequels, as well as other high profile projects (like Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series) could resume rolling cameras in the coming weeks and months.

That’s not to say that work on Avatar 2 as a whole has completely stopped, with James Cameron also saying the following during his interview with Empire:

We've got everybody – everybody at Weta Digital and Lightstorm – working from home to the extent that that is possible. But my work is on the stage doing the virtual cameras and so on, so I can do a bit of editing, but it's not great for me.

For a franchise like Avatar, VFX work is unquestionably integral, so it’s nice to know that there’s still progress being made on that front for Avatar 2 and its follow-ups. Still, there’s nothing that beats filming on an actual set, so I can understand James Cameron wanting to get back to that aspect of moviemaking as soon as possible.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not Avatar 2 gets pushed back into 2022 or beyond. Keep in mind that even if Avatar 2 isn’t delayed due to the growing health concerns, considering all the movies that have already had their dates changed for that reason, the second installment in James Cameron’s latest sci-fi saga could end up being moved down the calendar simply because the 2021 theatrical landscape and even parts of 2022 keep being altered.

Set over a decade after the events of Avatar, Avatar 2 will follow Jake Sully, Neytiri and their family exploring new corners of Pandora and allying themselves with the Metkayina clan against the RDA, who have returned to finish what they started. Along with plenty of familiar faces coming back, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver, Avatar 2’s cast also includes new folks like Kate Winslet, David Thewlis, Michelle Yeoh and Vin Diesel.

Until otherwise notified, Avatar 2 will hit theaters on December 17, 2021, with each of the following three Avatar movies also arriving in December every other year going forward. Keep track of what’s still to come on the silver screen this year with our 2020 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.