It's been over a decade since the first film of James Cameron's Avatar franchise was released in theaters, and now, fans are highly anticipating the next installment. There are four planned sequels for the Avatar franchise, and despite significant delays, both pre-lockdown and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sequel is expected to be out soon.
The last delay of Avatar 2 came in July 2022, and it looks like the sequel is finally hitting cinemas next year, so fans will be able to revisit the beautiful world of Pandora.
Cameron is also working on other planned Avatar sequels, but they will probably take years to complete. For now, let's focus on getting hyped for the second movie, Avatar: The Way of Water, and here's everything you need to know about the highly-anticipated sequel.
Avatar: The Way of Water Release Date: When will Avatar 2 Be Released?
James Cameron was originally aiming to release Avatar: The Way of Water in 2014. However, the subsequent addition of three more Avatar sequels and the necessity to develop new technology to film performance-capture scenes underwater led to major delays to give the crew more time to work on the writing, pre-production, and visual effects.
Having been pushed back from December 2021, Avatar: The Way of Water is finally going to be released in theaters on December 16, 2022. Aquaman 2 originally had the same release date, but Warner Bros. move it to March 17, 2023.
On a March 3, 2022, interview with THR, 20th Century Studios president Steve Asbell was asked whether Avatar 2 would premiere in theaters in 2022; He said, “Yes. It will.”
He continued, saying that the film is “going to blow people away” and that viewers are “not ready for what Jim [Cameron] is doing.” Despite how long it’s been since the first Avatar film, Asbell is confident that the marketing department will be able to hype audiences up once again.
The most recent delay was caused by the production being halted due to the global pandemic, not just the live-action filming in New Zealand, but also the "virtual production work" in Los Angeles, California.
In September 2020, Cameron said that they were "100% complete" with Avatar 2 and around 95% done with Avatar 3. Cameron is likely just referring to the live-action filming in New Zealand, and not to the complete film itself. Just like the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water requires a lot of virtual production and visual effects to complete, so this likely explains why they had to push the release schedule to 2022.
"Now that doesn't mean I have an extra year to finish the film because the day we deliver Avatar 2 we'll just start working on finishing Avatar 3," Cameron said.
In December 2021, EW shared set photos for Avatar 2 with James Cameron.
Avatar Sequels: What will Avatar 2 and Other Sequels be Called?
While the sequels are being called Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and so on, James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have only confirmed the second to be titled Avatar: The Way of Water.
However, back in November 2018, the BBC reported that the other sequels could be called Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider, and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa.
Cameron later confirmed to ET that these are potential titles for the Avatar sequels, but they are subject to change. Note that The Way of Water was also reported to be the title of the second movie, which was officially confirmed, so there's a good chance that the other sequels will have these titles.
The official logo for Avatar: The Way of Water has already surfaced online:
Cameron admits that he feels how time-consuming making these movies can be. In the past, the filmmaker handed off projects, such as when he passed Alita: Battle Angel over to Robert Rodriguez, so the option to do the same with Avatar 4 and 5 remains open, at least for now.
"The Avatar films themselves are kind of all-consuming," Cameron told Empire magazine. "I've got some other things I'm developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time – I don't know if that's after three or after four – I'll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I'm also interested in. Or maybe not. I don't know."
When Will the Avatar sequels be released?
The three other Avatar sequels will be released every other year after Avatar: The way of Water, all the way until Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.
Here are the other Avatar sequels' current release dates, which are subject to change:
Avatar 3 - December 20, 2024
Avatar 4 - December 18, 2026
Avatar 5 - December 22, 2028
Avatar: The Way of Water Plot: What will Avatar 2 Be About?
Over the years since the first film, Cameron has teased some details of the plot of Avatar 2, which will deal with "familial and imprisonment themes". Cameron also pointed out that the films can all stand on their own, so if you missed the original film, you will still enjoy watching the sequels.
"Each movie is a standalone movie that we would wanna go see," producer Jon Landau said. "You don't need to have seen the first Avatar to see Avatar 2. It sits there and we're gonna take people on a visual and an emotional journey that comes to its conclusion."
Avatar 2 will be set 12 years after the events of the first Avatar film. Neytiri is now the high priestess and Sully is the chieftain of their clan. They've settled down and started a family. It's also reported that they will be journeying beyond the forests of Pandora into underwater and volcanic environments that Cameron said (via Empire) will make "you shit yourself with your mouth wide open".
Avatar 2 filmed its motion capture scenes underwater to capture the importance of water.
Cameron talked to Collider about it, explaining, "It's never been done before and it's very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras."
"The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers.
"It's a little bit like a fighter plane dumping a bunch of chaff to confuse the radar system of a missile. It creates thousands of false targets, so we've had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did."
According to plot details, the R.D.A. (the invading human military force that brought Jake Sully to Pandora in the first film) will return to invade Pandora once again.
During an interview with Empire, Producer Jon Landau (Avatar, Titanic) shared some details about Jake and Neytiri's mixed-species family, which includes three Na'vi children named Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), and Tuktirey (Trinity Bliss). The couple has also adopted a human son named Miles Sorocco AKA "Spider" (Jack Champion). The human child is said to be adopted by Jake and Neytiri.
Here's a photo of Spider from Empire Magazine:
Avatar 2 Cast: Who Will Return and Who are the Newcomers in Way of WaterAvatar: The Way of Water?
Expect the core cast of the original Avatar to return in the sequels since they are all on contract.
Sam Worthington will reprise his role as the human-turned-Na'vi Jake Sully, and Zeo Saldana will return as Na'vi princess Neytiri. The 43-year-old actress has become the biggest star to come out of Avatar thanks to big film projects like Guardians of the Galaxy.
Stephen Lang somehow returns as the dead Colonel Miles Quaritch, and he's expected to be the main villain of the four sequels. Cameron said, "Stephen was so memorable in the first film, we're privileged to have him back. I'm not going to say exactly HOW we're bringing him back, but it's a science fiction story, after all."
"His character will evolve into really unexpected places across the arc of our new three-film saga. I really look forward to working with such a gifted actor, who's also become a good friend," Cameron added.
Cameron also revealed (via The National) that he'll be able to "really go to town and examine the character in detail" in Avatar: The Way of Water.
Sci-fi icon Sigourney Weaver will also return as an entirely different character since her role as Dr. Grace Augustine already died in the first Avatar film. Weaver talked about her character during a 2017 interview with Yahoo!" "It's really the most fun I've had in a long time," Weaver said. "I just wish the movies were coming out sooner, because I feel like the world needs more Avatar as soon as possible."
Speaking to Interview magazine, Weaver talked about her "goofy" character: "So Avatar I can't really talk about, but I would say that it's the biggest stretch I get to play in every possible way," Weaver told the publication about her Avatar 2 role. "I think if Jim Cameron didn't know me really well, he wouldn't have cast me as something as goofy as this. I had to work in a completely different way to play this character, a very physical way."
Matt Gerald will also reprise his role as Corporal Lyle Wainfleet, and CCH Pounder will be back as Neytiri's mom Mo'at.
Kate Winslet will play the role of Ronal in the Avatar sequels, marking her and Cameron's first collaboration since the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.
Empire Magazine shared our first look at Kate Winslet as Ronal.
Sigourney Weaver will also return as a teenage Na'vi named Kiri. She is revealed to be Jake and Neytiri’s adoptive teenage daughter.
As for other newcomers, Game of Thrones actress Oona Chaplin and Fear the Walking Dead star Cliff Curtis will be joining the sequels. Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie, The Sopranos) is playing a new character General Ardmore.
Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel has also joined the sequels, alongside Jemaine Clement, who plays a marine biologist Dr. Ian Garvin, whom Cameron describes as "one of my favorite characters".
Star Trek: Discovery star Michelle Yeoh also joined the cast as scientist Karina Mogue. Producer Jon Landau shared our first look at Yeoh on set in March 2021. According to the caption, she will be in Avatar 3 as well.
Speaking to EW, Yeoh talked about getting involved in the highly-anticipated sequel and teased her future appearance in other Avatar sequels (There are plans for up to five Avatar films).
"So, yes, I am in the Avatar sequels and as you know we can't really talk very much about it," Yeoh told EW. "But it's James Cameron! Come on! I would be the tea lady for James Cameron! We shot for a few weeks, and I was so impressed with the work that he's done, the work that he's doing, the energy. He's a genius, he's a walking genius. And I really really enjoyed the experience and I can't wait to go back soon, I hope."
EW also shared our first look at some of the supporting actors who'll be playing Sully's family, as well as children from another Na'vi clan called the Metkayina, who'll be led by Cliff Curtis. They include Bailey Bass, Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Filip Geljo, Trinity Bliss, Duane Evans Jr., and Jack Champion.
Harry Potter's David Thewlis was said to be featured in Avatar 2, but it turns out that he'll only star in Avatar 3, 4, and 5, but not the second movie.
Avatar 2 Trailer
On March 9, the first trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water was released online, and you can watch it below:
As you can see in the trailer, and as the title suggests, Avatar: The Way of Water will feature a lot of scenes set in watery environments with fantastic creatures.
On Nov. 2, a new trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water was released, and it features more footage featuring the movie's underwater environments, epic battles, and massive creatures.
Avatar: The Way of Water Creatures: What creatures will be featured in the sequel?
According to Empire Online, Avatar: The Way of Water will feature Tulkuns, Skinwings, and the Ilun.
The Tulkun is a whale-like creature. “The idea was to create a creature that was on the scale of Pandora,” producer Jon Landau old Empire.
The trailer also showed the skimwing, which Landau describes to be “like a giant flying fish but keeps its trail in the water – its tail is its propulsion. The Metkayina [water tribe] and all the reef people use them as their military mounts when they’re going into combat. They can go 60 miles per hour for endless periods of time.”
The Ilu was already seen on the Flight Of Passage ride at Walt Disney World’s Pandora: World Of Avatar. “The ilu is the water equivalent of a direhorse,” Landau said. “They are more playful than skimwings.”
Where can I stream Avatar: The Way of Water online?
Avatar: The Way of Water is only scheduled to release in theaters on Dec. 16. There are currently no plans to release it on Disney+ or any other streaming services, but it'll likely be available for digital purchase months after its theatrical run.
For now, you can stream the original Avatar on Disney+, and it's being re-released in theaters on Sept. 23.
Avatar: The Way of Water News: Any other updates?
Zoe Saldaña cried after watching the first 20 minutes of Avatar: The Way of Water
Speaking to reporter Kevin McCarthy (via People) about the Avatar sequel, Zoe Saldaña said, “I can get choked up just talking about it. I was able to see just 20 minutes of the second installment, right before the year ended, last year. And I was speechless. I was moved to tears.”
“Jim was finally able to crack that challenge — that whole thing that you can’t imitate water, virtually, through performance capture,” Saldaña continued. “That was just a challenge that he had taken upon himself, and it took him years, and he did it. He did it. It’s powerful, it’s compelling.”
“He’s also a big crier,” she added about her director. “He does have a very delicate heart, which is why he protects it so much. And I think that he’s able to have an outlet through the stories that he creates.”
James Cameron explains why he gave Jake and Neytiri a family in Avatar: The Way of Water
James Cameron explained that family adds something crucial that he doesn't think is present in contemporary fantasy movies. Speaking to Empire, he explained:
I’m a father of five. I look around – I don’t want to specifically say the Marvel Universe, or the DC Universe – at current fantasy and science-fiction and all these heroes seem unbound in the mire of relationships, the stuff that pulls you down and clips your wings, that stops you running around and risking your life. I thought, ‘What if I take these incredible characters of Jake and Neytiri and give them a family?’ That gives them feet of clay right there.
Why Avatar: The Way of Water underwater scenes were the hardest things star ever did
During an interview with Empire (via Deeper Blue), Sam Worthington explained how the "restraints" and "constrictions" of both freediving and working with the motion capture technology add more difficulty to the underwater scenes.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You’re dealing with the restrictions of freediving, the constraints of motion capture underwater, and you’re trying to keep an emotional journey going while you’re innately struggling with the fear of dying.”
Avatar is returning to theaters!
The first Avatar movie is returning to theaters on Sept. 23 in 4K High Dynamic Range. You can watch the new trailer to celebrate the rerelease of the 2009 blockbuster.
Avatar: The Way of Water "scoring sessions" begin
Franchise producer Jon Landau teased the sequel's post-production work, revealing a behind-the-scenes photo of The Way of Water composer Simon Franglen beginning his "scoring sessions" on the film.
Stephen Lang talks about his experience filming Avatar 2
During an interview with Comicbook.com, Stephen Lang detailed his experience working on the sequel a decade after starring in the original film .
I have seen a lot of Avatar 2. It is amazing. There's no question about it. I mean, I've never seen anything like it and I've seen Avatar. It's pretty out there, it's beautiful. Aside from the fact that it's absolutely gorgeous to look at and everything like that, it's just such a humane film. There's so much heart and feeling and passion in the movie that I think it's going to have a very, very broad appeal.
James Cameron shares details on canceled Avatar sequel that had a 130-page script.
James Cameron has revealed details about his canceled Avatar sequel, The High Ground, revealing that it had a 130-page script with a bunch of "great stuff" in it, including a zero-gravity battle.
During an interview with Total Film magazine (via Gamesradar), Cameron explained why the story never made it to screen, saying the script didn't have elements that the writing team were evidently able to bring to Avatar: The Way of Water.
"We were noodling around," he told Total Film. "I was working with a team of writers. We had a lot of ideas. We kept trying to corral it into a box, and it never quite fit. So at a certain point, I said, 'I'll just finish it, and see if it's a movie.' I did. It came out, I think, at 130 pages. It was like, 'Man, this is a great story. This is a hell of a read.'"
"But it was missing one of those critical elements about sequels, which is that it didn't go enough into the unexpected. It also didn't play enough by Avatar rules, which is to connect us to the dream world, that which has a spiritual component that we can't even quite quantify in words. It ticked every other box, but it didn't tick that one."