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Will James Cameron’s Avatar 2 Save Movie Theaters?

January 23, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Before you freak out and start yelling at me about how Avatar 2 doesn’t come out till, let’s take a deep breathe and remember nothing has been predictable at this point. 

Take James Bond. We’ve been watching trailers for the latest 007 movie, No Time to Die since late 2019 and its theatrical release has gone from April, to November, to April 2021. Now MGM says it will now move once again to October 8, a year and a half past the movies’s first scheduled premiere.

The movie industry is getting battered, with many of the studios releasing projects on streaming services to recoup a little of their money. Even as we move towards vaccinations and opening up businesses, polls still show people are apprehensive about sitting in a dark theater with a bunch of other strangers. 

It could be tough for a while. 

Enter Mr. James Cameron.  

I think we tend to overlook just how huge Avatar was when it was first released. It was an event! During its theatrical run, Avatar broke several box office records and became the highest-grossing film of all time, at the time. 

It also became the first movie to gross more than $2 billion and the best-selling film of 2010 in the United States. Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three, for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.

Even as some people scratch their heads that Cameron decided to continue his Avatar story, you can’t bet against him and what he has planned. From the sound of things, it’s going to be a sprawling epic with Cameron working steadily on four sequels, which are due for release over the next decade.

Story details about the movie  and its sequels are scarce but the second movie will explore the underwater environment of Pandora and will introduce us to the children of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).  

It was recently reported that Avatar 2 star Kate Winslet admitted that filming several movies in the franchise back-to-back caused her to lose track of which one of the sequels she was actually working on.

Winslet joined the cast as “water person” Ronal and has already filmed her scenes for at least two of the sequels, but said that she has no idea how many of the movies Cameron is actually making at once due to the franchise’s massive filming schedule.

Speaking on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Winslet said: “I slightly lost track of how many he is making at once. I did two at once, in tandem with him. All of my work was actually in 2018 but they’re still shooting it, they’re shooting the live-action portion of it now.”

“It’s an extraordinary experience,” she said. “You sort of go into what feels like this huge, souped-up aircraft hangar where anything is possible. You want to fly today? You want to do some spear fighting underwater? Sure, we’ll do that.

“It was wonderful for me just to be part of such a well-oiled machine with great people, incredible technicians and artists. To be part of such a fantastic story.”

Back to Covid and its impact on the box office. The Chinese film industry had lost $2 billion by March 2020, having closed all its theaters during the Lunar New Year period that sustains the industry across Asia. North America saw its lowest box office weekend since 1998 between March 13–15 and Cineworld, the world’s second-largest cinema chain, closed in October 2020.

Then you have the highest-grossing movie of 2020, The Eight Hundred, which earned $468 million worldwide. It was the first time since 2007 that the top-grossing film of a given year had earned less than $1 billion.

Realistically speaking, it’s going to be a while before the crowds return and it’s going to take something special to get audiences lining up around the corner again. 

Don’t be surprised when it’s Avatar 2.

Avatar 2 will be released on December 16, 2022 with Avatar 3, Avatar 4, and Avatar 5 expected to follow in December 2024, December 2026 and December 2028 respectively.

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Avatar 2, Steve Gustafson