Everything We Know About James Cameron's 'Avatar' Sequels
When will we say 'I see you' to 'Avatar 2'?
James Cameron's Avatar, which transformed Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington into stripey, blue aliens and made nearly $3 billion during its theatrical run after it premiered in 2009, is getting not one, but four sequels, turning what was once a 10-year-long project for a visionary director into a multi-billon-dollar movie series. With the state of the entertainment world in flux and tons of projects still delayed as we wait for the country to slowly open back up after quarantine, are the Avatar movies still, you know, happening? They sure are, and here's everything we know about them.
Do the sequels have titles?
Yes. Avatar 2 will be subtitled The Way of Water, the third movie is called Avatar: The Seed Bearer, the fourth is Avatar: The Tulkun Rider, and the fifth is Avatar: The Quest for Eywa. Tag yourself. (Keep in mind that these titles are official, but not official official, meaning Cameron could decide to change them at any time.)
Do they have release dates?
Having been delayed a few times already, Avatar: The Way of Water will come out December 16, 2022. It was originally planned for December 2020, then December 2021. Cameron announced on June 1 that he would be quarantining himself for two weeks after arriving back in New Zealand, which has more or less been spared during the pandemic, and after that the movie would resume filming.
The whole series having been delayed because of the quarantine work stoppage, The Seed Bearer is scheduled to hit theaters December 20, 2024; The Tulkun Rider on December 18, 2026; and The Quest for Eywa on December 22, 2028.
The shooting timeline gets a little muddled from here. Cameron and the cast have actually been filming the second and third movies simultaneously, since 2017. The original plan, according to him, was to release the next two and then see how they did, and then film the fourth and fifth. According to producer Jon Landau, in February 2019, a large portion of the fourth movie has already been filmed. In late September 2020, after a few weeks of resumed production, Cameron confirmed that the second movie was completely done with production, and the third about 95% finished. Now we simply wait a couple years for the visual effects department to turn all the humans into Na'vi.
Who is in the cast?
For the second movie, Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will reprise their roles as Neytiri and Jakesully, respectively. CCH Pounder will also be back as Neytiri's shaman mother Mo'at, Giovanni Ribisi will be back as unobtanium-hungry Parker Selfridge, as will Joel David Moore as researcher Norm Spellman and Dileep Rao as Dr. Max Patel of the Avatar Program. Confusingly, both Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang will be back as well, along with Matt Gerald's army mercenary character, even though their characters all died in Avatar. Eywa works in mysterious ways.
As for new people, Avatar 2 will feature a number of roles for new young actors, as well as some more recognizable faces. Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis will be playing Tonowari, the chieftain of the Metkayina clan of coral reef-dwelling Na'vi. Jamie Flatters, Brian Dalton, and Trinity Bliss will be playing Jakesully and Neytiri's three Na'vi children. Bailey Bass, Filip Geljo, and Duane Evans Jr. will be playing Metkayina free-divers along with Kate Winslet, who plays a free-diver Na'vi named Ronal.
And we can't forget the humans! Jack Champion will play new character Javier "Spider" Socorro, a teen who grew up in the human base on Pandora called Hell's Gate; Edie Falco will play General Ardmore; Brendan Cowell will play Mick Scoresby, the captain of a submarine vessel patrolling the waters of Pandora; Michelle Yeoh will play Dr. Karina Mogue; Jemaine Clement will play marine biologist Dr. Ian Garvin; and Oona Chaplin will play the mysterious character known only as Varang.
Vin Diesel and CJ Jones (who played Ansel Elgort's foster father in Baby Driver) have also been cast in unknown roles.
What will they be about?
Producer Landau has stressed that all four of the next movies will be "standalones," that you don't need to go see all of them to understand just one. They will each be their own adventures within the environments of Pandora—and (rumored) perhaps eventually out into space. Pandora is a moon, after all, orbiting another, much bigger planet.
Avatar: The Way of Water picks up a few years after the events of Avatar: Jakesully is now chieftain of the Omaticaya and Neytiri is his wife and high priestess. The events of the film will focus on the ocean-dwelling Metkayina clan, and as such most of its motion-capture scenes will be filmed underwater. (If you're not already aware of how much James Cameron loves making movies underwater, see the Wikipedia page for The Abyss for some insane anecdotes.) This will be the first time underwater motion-capture will be used to film a movie, and Cameron spent years developing the tech to be able to do it—much like he took all that time to get the tech right for the first movie. He also spent a lot of time dissecting exactly what made the first movie so successful, hoping to replicate that in the writing process—and nearly firing those in the writing department who were more interested in, uh, coming up with new ideas. Cameron has said that, when we finally get to see it, "You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open," which sounds good to us.