Fans of James Cameron’s Avatar will have to wait a little longer for the sequel to the biggest blockbuster of all time. The Toronto Star is reporting plans for the 2018 release are no longer feasible. Speaking to Cameron about the future of the franchise in the run-up to the opening of Disney World’s “Pandora” inside Animal Kingdom on May 27, 2017, the subject of the source material came up. The director chalked up the delay to the way the production schedule is set up:
“Well, 2018 is not happening. We haven’t announced a firm release date. What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases. So we’re not making Avatar 2. We’re making Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5.”
You can almost hear Mickey Mouse off in the distance, baseball bat smacking menacingly into one white-gloved paw as he gives off his trademark laugh with a gleam of evil in his eye, “We gave you a theme park, James. Ha-HA! Where’s our franchise?”
After all, if you live on planet Earth, you know what Avatar is. If you’re a cool person, you have to quantify it as James Cameron’s Avatar, so people don’t confuse it with the amazing Nickelodeon show (and the subsequent train wreck of an M. Night Shyamalan movie). That’s why Disney was willing to hundred of millions of dollars into breathing life into a tourist attraction version of Pandora. Cameron’s film topped the zeitgeist of 3D movies, a promise of how the technology would change entertainment forever. When Avatar was released, it became the highest-grossing film of all time (not adjusting for inflation). Some fans were literally suicidal because the alien world of Pandora isn’t real. It seemed inevitable that pop culture would be awash in sequels and Avatar references for decades.
But that was almost eight years ago. Eight! Seriously. Avatar was a holiday movie — released on December 18, 2009. By the following October, Cameron had committed to bringing Avatar 2 to the big screen by Christmas of 2014. Then Christmas of 2015…2016…and so on. Vulture journalist and film historian Mark Harris has been keeping a running tally. Allegedly there are four sequels to the movie in the works but at this rate, humanity will actually be on alien planets before the last one arrives in theaters.
With no firm date in place, one has to ask: Will anyone care about Avatar a decade or more after its initial release. The landscape of Hollywood is far different than it was in 2009. Even at the time, Avatar was derided as “Pocahontas in Space.” A simplistic story of a white savior integrating with a native population to drive off the evil corporation destroying the land for profit caused eye-rolling then. In the climate of 2017, when audiences are pretty over the whole Mighty Whitey trope, can Avatar survive?
I guess we’ll find out… eventually.