Trust James Cameron to pull off one feat after another. After earning more than US$1.5 billion at the international box office, Avatar: The Way of Water has surpassed its breakeven mark, which means the director will now have to complete Avatar 3, as well as the fourth and fifth entries in the franchise.
Speaking with Chris Wallace on the interview programme Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, Cameron bemoaned that he “can’t wriggle out of this; I’m gonna have to do these other sequels”. With he and Disney having planned a total of four follow-ups, the news hardly comes as a a surprise, but the man has also called the franchise “very f—king expensive”, and was prepared to end things off in the third installment if The Way of Water underperforms.
“It looks like, just with the momentum that the film has now, that we’ll easily pass our break-even in the next few days, actually, so it looks like I can’t wiggle out of this; I’m gonna have to do these other sequels,” said Cameron. “So I kind of know what I’m going to be doing the next six or seven years.
“I’m sure that we’ll have a discussion soon with with the top folks at Disney about the game plan going forward for Avatar 3, which is already in the can,” he continued. “We’ve already captured and photographed the whole film, so we’re in kind of extended post-production […] to do all that CG magic. And then Avatar 4 and 5 are both written. We even have some of 4 in the can. […] We can safely say we’ve begun a saga that can now play out over multiple films.”
Cameron also implied that the The Way of Water didn’t actually have to surpass US$2 billion at the global box office in order to earn a profit. “Just to clarify, I never actually gave it a number,” he said. “I said it has to be in the top handful of highest-grossing films in history, and somebody else applied that number and it got picked up. The number’s actually less.” While no exact figure was shared, the director said the point is that “we’re going to be OK.”
Avatar 3 is scheduled to hit theatres on 20 December 2024, and will feature Fire Na’vis called the ‘Ash People’, who are set to reveal the darker side of Pandora’s inhabitants. The plot for Avatar 4, meanwhile, is still being worked on, but its script has apparently left Disney executives speechless and came back with no studio notes.