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October 3, 2017

‘Avatar’ Sequels Begin Shooting, Reportedly Costing $1 Billion

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Written by: Taylor Salan
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It’s been nearly eight years since ‘Avatar‘ was released, but the road up to production on the ‘Avatar‘ sequels has been long and difficult. After years of production delays and an extended pre-production period to develop underwater Motion Capture technology, Director James Cameron‘s multi-film opus has finally entered production. Four concurrent sequels–‘Avatar 2‘, Avatar 3‘, ‘Avatar 4‘, and ‘Avatar 5‘– are currently shooting in Australia.

In addition to the production announcement, Deadline reports that the costs for the production of the four films is estimated to surpass $1 Billion. While this may seem like a very hefty number on the outset, when you consider that he’s making 4 movies that equal out to about $250 million per sequel. Cameron is used to making some of the most expensive movies of all-time (Avatar, Titanic, and Terminator 2 were all the most expensive films when they were released). So it’s hard not to root for the guy to pull off what is surely a massive, unprecedented feat if audiences are willing to flock to these movies when they are released.

When speaking about the practicalities of shooting four movies back-back, Cameron explained that they would actually be shooting the movies simultaneously:

“It’s not back-to-back. It’s really all one big production. It’s more the way you would shoot a miniseries. So we’ll be shooting across all [Avatar scripts] simultaneously. So Monday I might be doing a scene from Movie Four, and Tuesday I’m doing a scene from Movie One. … We’re working across, essentially, eight hours of story. It’s going to be a big challenge to keep it all fixed in our minds, exactly where we are, across that story arc at any given point. It’s going to be probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m sure the actors will be challenged by that as well. It’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, this person hasn’t died yet, so you’re still in this phase of your life.’ It’s a saga.”

Avatar Stephen LangWhat’s really interesting about these sequels is that while they’re basically shooting them concurrently, they will take a break between the release of the first two (‘Avatar’ 2 & 3) and the latter two (‘Avatar’ 4 & 5) in order to focus on finishing the first two before their release dates. Cameron also confirmed that–much to everyone’s surprise–Stephen Lang would return for the sequel. In fact, Lang is actually set to be the villain in all of them:

“The interesting conceit of the ‘Avatar’ sequels is it’s pretty much the same characters. There are new characters and a lot of new settings and creatures, so I’m taking characters you know and putting them in unfamiliar places and moving them on this greater journey. But it’s not a whole bunch of new characters every time. There’s not a new villain every time, which is interesting. Same guy. Same motherf*cker through all four movies. He is so good and he just gets better. I know Stephen Lang is gonna knock this out of the park.”

Finally, Producer Jon Landau talked about how each movie would be a standalone piece, while also creating the framework for a larger story throughout:

“At the heart of any movie are the characters. One of the strengths of great scripts are always the universal and relatable themes… There’s no more relatable theme than family. At the center of each of our four movies will be the Sully family. Each sequel will play as a stand-alone movie. Each movie’s story will come to its own conclusion… However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger connected epic saga for audiences around the world.”

Along with Lang, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Joel David Moore, Matt Gerald, and Sigourney Weaver all return for the sequels. Joining them this time will be new cast members Cliff Curtis and Oona Chaplin, among a whole plethora of fresh faces. The ‘Avatar‘ sequels currently have release dates of December 18, 2020; December 17, 2021; December 20, 2024; and December 19, 2025.

Avatar Sequel Kids

Photo: Sheryl Neilds/Entertainment Weekly

About the Author

Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan

Taylor Salan is a independent filmmaker who currently resides in the San Fernando Valley. Since childhood, Taylor Salan had a fascination with movies. Although he was an avid fan of film as a child, it wasn’t until his years as a young adult that his passion for the art of filmmaking truly came to fruition. A current student of the film production program at California State University Northridge, Taylor studies Cinematography but ultimately has plans to direct full time if afforded the opportunity. In his spare time, Taylor produces audio podcasts and blogs about film for He is also a longtime musician, playing drums for over 8 years.


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