avatar 2 delays

The Avatar sequels have been in the works for so long that it feels like they’re in a perpetual state of delay. But things were looking up for James Cameron‘s ambitious four-movie follow-up to his record-setting2009 blockbuster. The cast was in place, production had started, and visual effects were beginning to be created. Then the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, and production on the Avatar films, like all TV and film productions around the world, was put on pause. However, despite the indefinite delays caused by the pandemic, Cameron is confident that Avatar 2 will make its 2021 release date, and the third, fourth, and film Avatar films will remain on track for their releases.

Cameron can’t deny that the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically affected the shooting schedules of Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5, which the filmmaker is shooting back-to-back in an ambitious four-part production.

“It’s putting a major crimp in our stride here,” Cameron told Empire in its new Celebration Of Cinema issue. “I want to get back to work on Avatar, which right now we’re not allowed to do under state emergency laws or rules. So it’s all on hold right now.”

Before the pandemic caused studios to shut down productions across the globe, Cameron was set to travel to New Zealand to resume shooting his ambitious sci-fi sequels, which would bring us back to the bioluminescent world of Pandora that captured so many people’s imaginations in 2009 to the tune of $2.7 billion worldwide. The reason that the sequel was taking so long was because of the cutting-edge technology that Cameron developed to show a new underwater world, which would use a new motion-capture system in massive sets built in New Zealand.

But while travel is out of the question for many during the pandemic, that New Zealand location may be the saving grace for Cameron. Film productions overseas have slowly begun to start up again, and New Zealand in particular has proven to be “very effective in controlling the virus,” Cameron said. Because of that, Cameron is optimistic that they can resume shooting the Avatar sequels in New Zealand soon enough to still make Avatar 2‘s December 2021 release date:

“On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing,” he explained. “So there’s a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still do it. So that’s good news.” And with so much of the film’s world being brought to life by VFX artists, digital work on the film is still underway. “We’ve got everybody – everybody at Weta Digital and Lightstorm – working from home to the extent that that is possible. But my work is on the stage doing the virtual cameras and so on, so I can do a bit of editing, but it’s not great for me.”

When the pandemic began, Cameron pivoted to working on the virtual production, with the New Zealand-based WETA Digital continuing to work on the movies’ visual effects. So despite shooting getting put on pause, the filmmaker and his team have continued to keep working apace. It’s entirely possible that Cameron could live up to his promise and make that Avatar 2 release date. That is, if theaters will still be around by the time it hits.

Avatar 2 is aiming for a December 27, 2021 release, and three more sequels are set to arrive in its wake in December 2023, December 2025, and December 2027.

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