It’s déjà vu all over again. The Avatar sequels release dates have been delayed once more, this time owing to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. The original plan was for Avatar 2 to hit theaters back in 2014, but development on the screenplays—which then led to James Cameron expanding his plan from two Avatar sequels to four—caused significant delays. Production finally began on Avatar 2 and 3 last year heading towards a 2020 debut for the first sequel, but now Disney—which owns Fox—has announced a slew of release date changes that affect the timing of the Avatar sequels.
Avatar 2 has been delayed a full year, from December 2020 to December 17, 2021. And instead of Avatar 3 following the next year, Disney—which, again, owns Fox—has decided to alternate holiday release schedules between the Avatar franchise and the Star Wars franchise. So instead of Avatar 3 for Christmas in 2022, we’ll get a new, as-yet-untitled Star Wars movie. Then in Christmas 2023, we’ll get Avatar 3, and they’ll continue to alternate with the Avatar movies releasing thusly:
Avatar 2 – December 17, 2021
Avatar 3 – December 22, 2023
Avatar 4 – December 19, 2025
Avatar 5 – December 17, 2027
Yes indeed, if all goes according to plan, the Avatar franchise won’t finish up until nearly 20 years after the release of the first movie.
The original plan was for Avatar 2 and 3 to hit theaters in 2020 and 2021, with Avatar 4 and 5 following in 2024 and 2025. This was not only to give Cameron (who’s directing all four movies) time to finish post-production, but also to space out the filming schedule. Indeed, last year’s bulk of performance capture filming comprised Avatar 2 and 3, with a little bit of filming done for the final two sequels. This year, Cameron intends to being live-action photography for the sequels. But that plan may now change if he has an extra ::checks notes:: four years until Avatar 3 is slated to hit theaters.
Cameron previously stated that if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t work, there’s no guarantee that the final two sequels happen. But under Disney’s tutelage, one imagines they’ll position and ensure this franchise is good to go, ready to serve as the tentpole for the holiday season in the off-years between Star Wars movies.
Get ready, folks. The Disney takeover has only just begun.