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Jake and Neytiri in Avatar

The current health crisis has not only resulted in movies that were about to come out being delayed, but movies a ways into the future needing to be pushed back too. For example, earlier today, it was announced that Avatar 2, a blockbuster that’s already been shifted around the calendar a lot, has been pushed back another year from December 2021 to December 2022.

Now James Cameron, the director/architect of the Avatar franchise has responded to Avatar 2’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the spreading coronavirus required production to be shut down in New Zealand, but in the last month, filming started back up. However, Cameron has revealed that the pandemic has prevented him and his team from recommencing most of the visual production work on stages in Los Angeles, which he described as being “just as critical” to the Avatar movies as the live action work. The filmmaker continued:

Prior to the COVID-19, everything was on track to bring you the first sequel in December of 2021. Unfortunately, due to the impact that the pandemic has had out our schedule it is no longer possible for us to make that date. There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me. But I am buoyed by the incredible performances of our cast and the extraordinary work that Weta Digital is doing bringing the world of Pandora and the characters of the film to life.

James Cameron added in his statement shared on the official Avatar Instagram page that he’s “thankful for the support” he and his team have been receiving from Disney Studios, as well as grateful for the fans’ support after all these years. So while we now have to wait an extra year for Avatar 2, Cameron promises that the end result “will deliver.”

Of course, with Avatar 2 being pushed to December 16, 2022, that means the other three Avatar sequels have been delayed as well. As it stands now, Avatar 3 is now scheduled for December 20, 2024, followed by Avatar 4 on December 18, 2026 and Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028. Assuming those dates stick (and given this franchise’s track record and these crazy times we live in, that’s far from guaranteed), that means by the time the Avatar film series concludes, it’ll have been nearly 20 years since the first movie came out and took the world by storm.

The announcement of Avatar 2’s latest delay was accompanied by plenty of other Disney release date changes. This included Mulan, which had previously been scheduled for August 21, being removed from the calendar, as well as the next three Star Wars movies all being pushed back. Now the next Disney-affiliated movie scheduled to come out in theaters this year is Marvel Studios’ Black Widow in November, although that might end up moving too.

Just like in real life, over a decade will have passed since the events of Avatar when Avatar 2 begins, with Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri now having three children. The sequel will see the family exploring other regions of Pandora when an old threat resurfaces. Along with familiar faces like Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, CCH Pounder and Giovanni Ribisi returning (though in Weaver’s case, she’ll be playing a different character), the new cast members include Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh and Vin Diesel.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on how Avatar 2 is coming along, and browse through our 2020 release schedule to learn what movies are still supposed to come out later this year.

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