James Cameron Promises Avatar: The Way Of Water's Three-Hour Runtime Serves A Purpose

James Cameron's "Avatar" is finally getting a sequel, and it only took 13 years. "Avatar: The Way of Water" will be released in theaters around the world next month, and the story follows suit by taking place more than a decade after its predecessor. According to Cameron, the movie is a whopping 190 minutes, and it will be focused on developing characters and fleshing out their family dynamics that will be the emotional centerpiece of "The Way of Water."

The first "Avatar" was already a project that had been in the making for a long time, with Cameron writing a script in 1994 and then waiting years for motion-capture technology to catch up to the production he envisioned. So it's not exactly surprising that the original "Avatar" ran a lengthy 162 minutes to meet the director's lofty ambitions. Cameron must know he has an uphill battle to get audiences to sit still in a theater for over three hours, because he's been preemptively shooting down criticisms of the sequel's runtime, arguing that "The Way of the Water" is still shorter than binge-watching a season of television.

A big blue family

If the first film spent its time establishing the ecology and culture of Pandora, the follow-up will deal more intimately with the individual lives of those who live on the alien moon. Cameron admits that a lack of character development in lieu of world-building and spectacle was one of the weaknesses of "Avatar," and he justifies the over-three hour runtime in an interview with Total Film magazine:

"The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis... I would say the emphasis in the new film is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn't spend as much time on relationship and emotion in the first film as we do in the second film, and it's a longer film, because there's more characters to service. There's more story to service."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" sees Jake Sully and Neytiri, played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, try to raise a family of five children and deal with all the drama that arrives with the heavy responsibility. Cameron claims that it's more "like how The Sopranos is a family story" rather than "a family story from Disney," a comparison that further enunciates how necessary he thinks the epic length is. If any of this still isn't convincing enough to go out and see the movie in theaters, Cameron offers this piece of solace: "It's okay to get up and go pee."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" arrives in theaters starting on December 16, 2022.