“Avatar 3” will open Dec. 17, 2021, followed by a three- year break for “Avatar 4, set for Dec.20, 2024. “Avatar 5” will then open on Dec. 19, 2025.
The news was announced on the movie’s official Facebook page on Saturday morning, along with a picture of Cameron and crew.
“Great to be working with the best team in the business! Avatar takes flight as we begin concurrent production on four sequels,” Cameron said in the post.
Cameron had announced a year ago at CinemaCon that he would make four “Avatar” sequels, promising that the films would start hitting theaters in 2018. The creator of the original “Avatar,” the 2009 fantasy epic that remains the all-time worldwide box office champion with $2.8 billion, said at the time that his vision for the story had expanded significantly.
Cameron said last year that he had first envisioned two sequels but after meeting with the screenwriters, artists and designers, he realized that he had too much material for just two films. He initially decided on three sequels, then jumped to four.
Popular on Variety
“We have decided to embark on a truly massive cinematic project, making four epic films, each of which stands alone but together forms a complete saga,” Cameron told theatrical exhibitors at CinemaCon.
That announcement came immediately after the director told theater owners he opposed the proposal by Sean Parker’s upstart Screening Room, to bring movies into customers’ homes at the same time they debut in theaters. “Trust me, these are films that were designed to be seen in theaters and on the big screen first,” he added.
At the time, Cameron said “Avatar 2” would be released around Christmas 2018, followed by the next three films in 2020, 2022 and 2023. But Fox never officially dated the films and Cameron admitted a month ago that the 2018 date was no longer feasible.
Cameron and Jon Landau are producing through their Lightstorm company. Returning cast includes Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang all returning. The script was written by Cameron with Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and Shane Salerno.
“What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases,” Cameron said last month. “So, we’re not making ‘Avatar 2,’ we’re making ‘Avatar 2,’ ‘3,’ ‘4,’ and ‘5.’ It’s an epic undertaking. It’s not unlike building the Three Gorges dam.”
The filmmaker said at the time that the four movies would be all-consuming for him through 2025.
“So I know where I’m going to be for the next eight years of my life,” he added. “It’s not an unreasonable time frame if you think about it. It took us four-and-a-half years to make one movie and now we’re making four. We’re full tilt boogie right now. This is my day job and pretty soon we’ll be 24/7. We’re pretty well designed on all our creatures and sets. It’s pretty exciting stuff. I wish I could share with the world. But we have to preserve a certain amount of showmanship and we’re going to draw that curtain when the time is right.”
Here is the Facebook post from Saturday morning: