Avatar 3 Release Date, Cast, Plot And More Details

Moviegoers in 2009 were left with their jaws on the floor after witnessing James Cameron's sci-fi fantasy epic, "Avatar." The film, which chronicles the struggle between a peaceful race called the Na'vi and an antagonistic mining colony, was quickly hailed as a groundbreaking achievement. Stunningly computer-generated environments and motion capture technology not only bring the world of Pandora to life, they got plenty of butts in seats. To this day, "Avatar" remains the highest-grossing film of all time when not adjusted for inflation, raking in a global total of $2.9 billion from its various releases. Despite initial doubt, its 2022 follow-up, "Avatar: The Way of Water," didn't fall too far behind, making $2.3 billion. It currently ranks as the third-highest-grossing movie ever made. 

With such unprecedented success, it's no wonder the future will look more blue. Once the first "Avatar" became a global phenomenon, Cameron and company announced plans for two follow-up entries, which later went on to include a fourth and fifth installment. Time will tell if "Avatar 3" manages to meet or exceed the box office-busting results of its predecessors, but until then, let's dive back into Pandora and break down everything we know so far about the anticipated sequel. 

When will Avatar 3 be released?

With the "Avatar" movies being such ambitious cinematic undertakings, there have been many alterations to the sequel's release dates. Originally, "Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Avatar 3" were slated to come out in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Fast forward to now, and only the second film has seen the light of day, with a whopping 13-year gap between its release and the original. 

Currently, the third "Avatar" installment is set to be released on December 19, 2025. The news came in June along with several other delays announced by Disney for such films as "Deadpool & Wolverine." The postponement had a ripple effect on the other "Avatar" entries, with "Avatar 4" moved to December 21, 2029, and "Avatar 5" to December 19, 2031. Producer Jon Landau shared that the team was working hard on the next film, saying on Twitter, "Each Avatar film is an exciting but epic undertaking that takes time to bring to the quality level we as filmmakers strive for and audiences have come to expect. The team is hard at work and can't wait to bring audiences back to Pandora in December 2025."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" and "Avatar 3" were shot back-to-back, with production beginning in 2017. Shooting halted in mid-March 2020, but the team was able to resume production in New Zealand in June, making the "Avatar" films some of the first major Hollywood movies to resume filming during the pandemic. Shooting for "Avatar 3" was complete by December 2020. In November 2023, Cameron told New Zealand's 1News, "We're into a very hectic two years of post-production right now." Then, in January 2024, Sam Worthington told People, "We go back to work on it in a month." In other words, everything's right on track.

What is the plot of Avatar 3?

While there's no official plot synopsis yet of "Avatar 3," we have learned some thrilling details. Just as "The Way of Water" explores a new Na'vi culture with the ocean-dwelling Metkayina clan, James Cameron revealed that "Avatar 3" will feature a society of Na'vi known as the "Ash People." 

This new set of characters resides in a fiery realm, but unlike the peace-loving Na'vi tribes seen prior, the Ash People will display a more ruthless side. "I want to reveal the Na'vi from another angle because, for the moment, I have only shown their good sides," Cameron told French outlet 20 Minutes. "In the first films, there are very negative human examples and very positive Na'vi examples. In 'Avatar 3,' we'll do the opposite." Producer Jon Landau also teased some story beats, such as the escalating conflict between the whale-like Tulkun Payakan and the villainous hunter Mick Scoresby (Brendan Cowell). 

Even then, it seems there are some major surprises in store. Actor Jack Champion, who portrays Miles "Spider" Socorro in "The Way of Water," revealed that he was left stunned by the events of the upcoming film, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "I was very shocked by ['Avatar 3']. It just takes a hard left turn, and that's not a bad thing. You think you know where it's going, but then a wrecking ball comes ... So I think it's even better than 'Avatar 2.' Collectively, they'll each get better."

We also know we'll meet some new, terrifying creatures. Speaking with the Konbini YouTube channel in April 2024, Cameron revealed that we'll meet Medussa — a gigantic, flying jellyfish with ill intentions — in "Avatar 3." Here's hoping this flying monster somehow does battle with a Tulkun before the film is over.

Who is starring in Avatar 3?

It should come as no surprise that "Avatar 3" will see many of the same players return from the previous game-changing blockbusters, as several of the performers have signed up for multiple installments. This includes the likes of Sam Worthington as human-turned-Na'vi Jake Sully, Zoe Saldaña as the fiery Neytiri, and Stephen Lang as the malicious Colonel Miles Quaritch, the latter of whom is set to be the overarching antagonist of all the follow-ups. Sigourney Weaver is also set to return as Sully's adopted daughter Kiri from "Avatar: The Way of Water," after having previously played Dr. Grace Augustine in the original film. 

Audiences can expect to see those introduced in "The Way of Water" come back. This primarily includes the child actors, like Britain Dalton as Lo'ak, Bailey Bass as Tsireya, Trinity Bliss as Tuk, Jack Champion as Spider, and Filip Geljo as Ao'nung. Likewise, Kate Winslet will be reprising her role as Metkayina warrior Ronal. The "Titanic" star has promised her part in future "Avatar" installments will be more substantial than "The Way of Water," saying in an interview with Variety, "And whilst my role is actually relatively small comparative to the lengthy shoot ... it is a pivotal character in the ongoing story."

Rounding out the cast are some big names who will make their franchise debuts, such as "Game of Thrones" actress Oona Chaplin as Varang, "Harry Potter" star David Thewlis as the Na'vi Peylak, and "Everything Everywhere All At Once" star Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Karina Mogue.

Who is directing Avatar 3?

As with the previous franchise entries, James Cameron will helm "Avatar 3." Since the mid-1980s, Cameron's catalog has been on the cutting edge of filmmaking innovation and breaking box office records in the process.  

Cameron's work throughout the 1980s and early 1990s established him as a crowd-pleasing innovator. 1984's "The Terminator" made a star out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, while 1986's "Aliens" became Cameron's first of several movies to win the Oscar for best visual effects. Similarly, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" made revolutionary use of computer-generated imagery. Even his lesser-discussed projects, such as "The Abyss" and "True Lies," were box office successes and earned accolades for their visual effects. 

His 1997 epic historical tearjerker "Titanic" etched out a new place in film history when it became the first movie to earn $1 billion worldwide, which later grew to over $2.2 billion after its numerous re-releases. The film also won a whopping 11 Academy Awards, granting Cameron three for best director, best editing, and best picture. Cameron's "Titanic," "Avatar," and "Avatar: The Way of Water" currently make up three of the top five highest-grossing films of all time. 

Despite his continued success with the "Avatar" franchise, Cameron could see himself handing the reins to a new visionary following "Avatar 3," saying in a Variety interview, "I've got some other things I'm developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time — I don't know if that's after three or after four — I'll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I'm also interested in. Or maybe not. I don't know."

Who is writing and producing Avatar 3?

Alongside James Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are credited as screenwriters on "Avatar 3."  The husband and wife duo began their careers writing and producing numerous productions, such as 1992's "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" and the 1997 horror film "The Relic."  The 2010s saw the couple transition to the blockbuster realm when they were tasked with writing and producing 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and its 2014 follow-up "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." They only acted as producers on the third installment, "War for the Planet of the Apes." Jaffa and Silver went on to pen the screenplays and stories of other notable tentpoles, including "Jurassic World," "In the Heart of the Sea," and "Mulan." Since 2013, the two have been attached to the "Avatar" sequels, having previously aided in the screenplay of "Avatar: The Way of Water."

Working alongside Cameron once again in the producer's seat is Jon Landau. After acting as a co-producer on such films as "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and "Dick Tracy," Landau and Cameron had their first collaboration with 1997's "Titanic," which went on to win the duo the Academy Award for best picture. Since then, Landau and Cameron have co-produced several projects together, including the "Avatar" films, the 2002 sci-fi flick "Solaris" starring George Clooney, and the 2019 Robert Rodriguez-directed "Alita: Battle Angel." 

Where can you stream the previous Avatar movies?

There are still a few years before "Avatar 3" is slated to come out, but it's never too early to catch up with the franchise. Currently, "Avatar" and "Avatar: The Way of Water" are available to stream on Disney+ and Max. This may seem odd, considering the streaming services are seen as competitors, and Disney has held the rights to the "Avatar" franchise since the company's historic acquisition of 21st Century Fox. However, Disney and WarnerMedia made a deal to allow for a selection of 20th Century Fox's 2022 releases to stream between Max and Disney-owned streamers such as Disney+ and Hulu. Additionally, both movies can be seen by premium Amazon Prime subscribers or purchased from platforms such as YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu. 

Even though "Avatar 3" has yet to hit theaters, there may already be ambitious ideas for its streaming debut. In March 2023, industry insider Jeff Sneider shared that James Cameron has a nine-hour cut of the third "Avatar" film and plans to release it on Disney+ as a limited series. Currently, this is all speculation, and no word from Cameron or the "Avatar 3" team has confirmed this notion.