After a film grosses almost $3 billion at the global box office, you have to imagine the studio behind it would want to cash in immediately. Get a sequel into theaters ASAP. Strike while the iron is hot. Avatar director James Cameron is not that kind of person though. He doesn’t rush things. And yet, even he admits that the 13 years it will have taken between 2009’s mega hit and its December sequel Avatar: The Way of Water did worry him just a little bit.
“I was a little concerned that I had stretched the tether too far, in our fast-paced, modern world, with Avatar 2 coming in 12 years later,” Cameron told the New York Times. “Right until we dropped the teaser trailer, and we got 148 million views in 24 hours. There’s that scarce seen but wondered at principle, which is, ‘Wow, we haven’t seen that in a long time, but I remember how cool it was back then.’” Cameron continued. “Does that play in our favor? I don’t know. I guess we’re going to find out.”
Cameron is no stranger to sequels with long waits in between. In the same interview, he points out he made Aliens seven years after the first film, and it’s considered one of the greatest sequels ever. He also made Terminator 2: Judgment Day seven years after the original and not only is it too is considered one of the greatest sequels ever, it exponential outgrossed the original. So even if he was worried about Avatar 2 for a bit, he did have some proof that waiting and getting it right could work. “I think I could have made a [Avatar] sequel two years later and have it bomb because people didn’t relate to the characters or the direction of the film,” he said.
But Cameron hasn’t made an out and out “bomb” in 40 years. His track record is basically unmatched. So we have to imagine, working on this movie for over a decade, his care and confidence are through the roof. One thing he couldn’t work on in that time, though, is Avatar’s cultural impact, which isn’t close to the other mega blockbusters of its time. Almost $3 billion grossed and yet, very few toys on the shelves, quotes in the lexicon, and only a smattering of extremely brave cosplayers. It’s going to be beyond interesting to see not just if the film is a hit, but how big of a hit—and if the wait will bring in a new generation of fans. Then there’s the follow-up, though the wait for all the subsequent Avatar sequels will be minuscule in comparison to this one. Avatar 3 is scheduled for release December 2024, with parts 4 and 5 coming two years after the previous. Could that be too short of a wait? Who knows? Well, maybe James Cameron.
For an Avatar refresher, the original film is coming back to theaters this weekend. Avatar: The Way of Water opens December 16.
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