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All The Avatar 2 Rumors And Spoilers Leaked So Far

Almost immediately after Avatar hit U.S. cinemas on December 16, 2009, director, writer and blockbuster mastermind James Cameron started promising us more. It didn't exactly come as a surprise: Avatar made $1 billion in just 19 days, making it the fastest movie to gross that much money until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 came along in 2011. 

But Cameron wasn't interested in churning out another sequel for the sake of it. Since 2010, he's been dropping teasers about his vision for what's next for the franchise, a vision that includes not just one movie sequel but several, as well as books and comics, and even an area of Disney's Animal Kingdom, which opened in 2017. 

Despite the rumors and the hype, actual details have remained vague: even the release dates for the proposed sequels kept changing. In the meantime, Disney (who now own the Avatar franchise) teamed up with Marvel to take over as box office kings of the world. While Avatar remains the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, having grossed over $2.7 billion, 2019's Avengers: Endgame is tantalizingly close to the record. Can Cameron make a comeback and reclaim his throne? Here's everything we know so far.

The latest release date

Pinning down exactly when we can expect to take our cinema seats for Avatar 2 and its subsequent sequels has proved more challenging than scoring Unobtanium. In 2010, Cameron said the next two films would be coming out in the Decembers of 2014 and 2015, respectively. But when January 2015 rolled around with no Avatar 2, he confirmed that the sequels had been pushed to some time around 2017 — including the newly announced fourth sequel.

By April 2016, there was now an Avatar 5, yet Avatar 2 had been pushed to Christmas 2018. A year later, in April 2017, the timeline moved again, when Cameron announced we could expect Avatar 2 on December 18, 2020.

For the few people who were still paying attention at this point, that date stuck around for another two years — until May 2019, when Disney's purchase of Avatar owners Fox meant one final shift (we hope). Since Disney also own Star Wars, they'll be trying to balance out that franchise's fervently followed films with the Avatar sequels every Christmas. As of now, we're getting Avatar 2 on December 17, 2021, Avatar 3 on December 22, 2023, Avatar 4 on December 19, 2025, and Avatar 5 on December 17, 2027. At least, that's the theory.

Potential titles

Even though we should have had at least two more sequels by now according to Cameron's original timeline, we don't even know for sure what the official title of Avatar 2 will be. However, there have been rumors over the nearly ten years since the first film came out. At one point, James Cameron reportedly didn't even want the word 'avatar' in the future titles. (If you haven't seen the first movie yet, firstly, what have you been doing for ten years, and secondly, look away now.) In 2012, he pointed out that at the end of Avatar, Jake left his avatar to become a real Na'vi, so the term technically no longer applies.

Unsurprisingly, it seems that 20th Century Fox (and now Disney) were not on board with this change of heart. In 2018, the BBC wrote that they had seen documentation referring to four Avatar projects entitled Avatar: The Way of Water; Avatar: The Seed Bearer; Avatar: The Tulkun Rider; and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa. However, as with all things Avatar, it wouldn't be surprising if the posters and trailers eventually turned up with totally different titles.

The cameras are rolling

Cameron has said that most of what we'll see onscreen in the four sequels will be motion-capture footage, which the team started filming in September 2017, working on Avatar 2 and 3 back-to-back, as well as parts of the fourth installment. In February 2019, at an IMAX Q&A that was technically supposed to be about his and Cameron's latest film Alita: Battle Angel, producer Jon Landau said that the Avatar team had wrapped the motion-capture performances, and would be starting on the live-action scenes in the spring. 

Although the design for Pandora was inspired by the vertical mountains of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China (pictured), Landau confirmed that they will actually be shooting in New Zealand. In an interview for an Avatar behind-the-scenes episode of the Empire Podcast, James Cameron said, "That pesky little live-action component is going to cost me five months of my life, across the two movies" — which means that at least one actor could be running through a beautiful, dense forest in New Zealand as you read these very words.

The main cast are all back... no matter what

While we expected to see Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana's star-crossed warriors return, it's more surprising to learn that Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang are both back for all four sequels. Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine and Lang's Colonel Quaritch were both supposedly killed in the first film (she by a bullet, he by two arrows fired by Saldana's character Neytiri). And while Weaver has revealed that she plays a different character in the upcoming movies, Cameron has confirmed that Lang is back as evil Quaritch — and that he'll be the primary villain in the future films.

For Worthington and Saldana, the years between Avatar and its sequels have led to two very different careers. While Saldana took the next logical stepping stone and landed a role in the most indie-feeling franchise of the MCU — Guardians of the Galaxy — as well as the lead in a controversial Nina Simone biopic, Worthington kicked around in also-rans like the much-abused Clash of the Titans and its sequel. A guaranteed place in a franchise primed with a box office record and four more films in the works may go some way towards changing his luck — assuming people show up in 2021.

We're staying on Pandora

Everyone who enjoyed the intensely colorful visuals of Pandora will be pleased to know that the vast majority of the action over the next four movies will also take place in this oasis. In that IMAX Q&A, Landau said that while other science fiction movies go to different planets if they want to put their characters in a new kind of environment — like the snowy plains of Hoth, or Tattooine's rough deserts — the Avatar team decided that since Pandora is a metaphor for Earth, it made more sense to stay on the same planet but head out in new directions. In this way, not only will we get to see different types of environments, but we'll also meet clans whose natural environments have shaped their perspectives on the world in a way that's different from the Omaticaya — the group from the first film.

Specifically, in Avatar 2, we'll be going underwater — which should be familiar territory for Cameron, thanks to a little movie called Titanic. However, the motion capture used in the Avatar films makes filming underwater scenes very tricky. In November 2017, Cameron explained that the cameras struggle to pick up images from the markers on the actors' suits when they're underwater, although they were eventually able to get it right. However, he still noted that "Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets ten times harder."

An old colleague is returning to the heart of the ocean

Cameron is not the only Titanic veteran reimmersing themselves in water work for the Avatar sequels. In October 2017, it was revealed that Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet had been cast as a character called Ronal, whom Cameron described as "part of the Sea people, the reef people." He also said that Winslet was "very excited" to see the world they had created, and that she demanded that she be allowed to do all her own water work. 

This three-way reunion between Cameron, Winslet and water could raise a few eyebrows, given that Winslet's first experience of working with Cameron wasn't exactly smooth sailing (ahem). Discussing the infamously turbulent filming of Titanic, she said, "There were times when I was genuinely frightened of him" and also recounted a moment when she and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio were running from a wave and her coat got caught; the water hit her, and she thought she might drown. Cameron dismissed this, saying he just let her believe she was in danger. Despite this less-than-ideal track record, Jon Landau said Winslet took to her Avatar water scenes like, well, a duck to water, and that she even learned how to hold her breath for a full seven minutes.

The plot focuses on Jake and Neytiri's daughter

Given that by the time Avatar 2 comes out, it will have been 12 Earth years since we last visited Pandora, it's perhaps natural that the plot has moved along too. Speaking to the Empire Podcast, Cameron revealed that the first sequel will start out by focusing on Jake and Neytiri's eight-year-old daughter. He also said that although Jake and Neytiri are still together as a couple, one of the crucial plot points is a big disagreement between the pair, which the audience will see from the point of view of their child.

She's not the only young character: in 2017 we were introduced to seven child and teenage actors who will be playing Na'vi from either Neytiri's Omaticaya clan or the Metkayina — ocean dwellers who live on a reef. Like the adults, Cameron said the teenagers had to learn to free-dive. Only one of the young cast plays a human child, born in the Hell's Gate military complex seen in the first film. Cameron explained that he now sees the Avatar films as being a family saga comparable to the Godfather movies, and that introducing kids means a shift in attitude for the adult characters, as they have to consider how their actions affect their families.

You can't even prepare for how it will look

Even Avatar haters had to admit that the film was visually breathtaking — and if James Cameron's comments are anything to go by, the new one will take even more out of us unsuspecting viewers. Describing the special effects to Empire in 2014, Cameron said: "They're gonna be bitchin'. You will s*** yourself with your mouth wide open."

Exactly what that means is unclear, as Cameron is still being pretty coy about the exact details. It's unsurprising that he would need to work out a few kinks, given that in the ten-year gap between the first movie and its sequel, technology has moved forward faster than those constantly delayed production schedules could keep up.

Back in 2014, Cameron said he was planning to use 4K resolution, predicting that there would be a lot of movie theaters up to the challenge by the time his new films made their way to screens — and he was right, as it turns out. There were also rumors that he would be one-upping friend and fellow filmmaker Peter Jackson when it came to frame rate by opting for 60 frames a second — 12 more than Jackson used in his Hobbit trilogy — but Cameron later fixed on 48. In a more recent and less graphic 2017 interview, he remained as cryptic as ever, simply confirming that "people just won't be able to imagine it in advance."

Each film will stand alone

For anyone still reading this who hasn't seen Avatar, there's good news. Landau told IMAX that you don't need to have watched Avatar to enjoy the sequels, since each one was written as a "visual and emotional journey that comes to its own conclusions." According to Landau, having the world of Pandora to play with means each movie has enough substance to follow its own storyline without needing to rely on the others. That said, given how much time each movie is taking — and the $1 billion budget dedicated to the next four films — you have to assume they're hoping you'll pay to see each sequel at least once.

Cameron is used to working with enormous budgets. Avatar cost $425 million — with $150 million of that spent solely on marketing and promotion — making it the most expensive movie ever made. Titanic cost $210 million, but it was supposed to cost $109 million: after signing off on Fox's lower budget, Paramount executives paid a visit to the set and saw Cameron's giant water tank and elaborate backdrops, with details like real wallpaper, and threatened to sue the other studio for fraud. Fortunately the movie ultimately made $2.2 billion, so both parties more than made their money back — and Cameron is clearly hoping that Avatars 2, 3, 4, and 5 can repeat his high-grossing trick.

There's a cast full of 'strong women'

Weaver, Saldana and Winslet aren't the only Avatar vets with track records of playing strong female characters who'll be present on Pandora. In 2017, it was announced that Game of Thrones actress Oona Chaplin would be playing a character named Varang, whom Deadline described as "a strong and vibrant central character who spans the entire saga of the sequels." In March 2019, the official Avatar Twitter account posted that Chaplin's fellow Game of Thrones alumnus Brendan Cowell had been cast as "Mick Scoresby, captain of a large-scale marine hunting vessel on Pandora."

On February 6, 2019, the official Avatar account tweeted that Sopranos and Nurse Jackie star Edie Falco had been cast as General Ardmore, the leader of the RDA forces. Speaking to IMAX, Landau praised Cameron's casting choice, saying, "In typical Jim fashion, he finds this powerful woman to play what could be very easily a male role if people were just to read the script." Two months later, in April 2019, we learned that Michelle Yeoh of Crazy Rich Asians, Star Trek: Discovery and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would play a scientist named Dr. Karina Mogue. Exactly how much all these stars will get to do remains to be seen, but it's promising to see so many talented women coming together in a big-budget blockbuster.

And two New Zealanders

Two of the new Avatar actors will be on home turf while shooting the live-action scenes — i.e. New Zealand, not Pandora. Cliff Curtis, who is best known outside his home country as Travis Manawa from the AMC spinoff prequel series Fear the Walking Dead, will play Tonowari, the leader of the Metkayina. Curtis told an interviewer that he didn't even have to audition to get the role: apparently he had a Skype call with James Cameron, who offered him the part in the four movies then and there. He added this was the kind of opportunity he'd been waiting for his whole career, and described Cameron as a genius.

The other New Zealander who'll be accompanying him to Pandora is Jemaine Clement, the co-creator of 2014's vampire mockumentary film What We Do in the Shadows. Like Curtis, Clement is also working on a TV show, but mostly behind the scenes: What We Do in the Shadows premiered as a series on FX in March of 2019, and was renewed for a second season in May. The Avatar Twitter account announced on May 15 that Clement would be playing a marine biologist named Dr. Garvin — first name Ian, according to his IMDb page.

And... Vin Diesel

Avatar's official Twitter isn't the only social media account that's been buzzing with casting news. On April 3, 2019, Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel posted a video to his Instagram of himself with James Cameron on the set of all four of the Avatar sequels. The actor said that there was one person in Hollywood he'd always wanted to work with, and that "all things come," which strongly suggested to fans that he had a part in at least one of the sequels.

Diesel later confirmed that he would indeed play a role in the franchise, adding that Cameron isn't the only person whose presence on Avatar convinced him to sign up. He was also keen to reunite with his Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers co-star Zoe Saldana — a.k.a. Neytiri. At the moment, his IMDb page only lists his upcoming role in Avatar 2 as rumored, so we may have to be eagle-eyed to spot him in 2021 — something motion capture will make even harder.

Learn more Pandora history in a (supposedly) upcoming novel

If you haven't gotten on board with James Cameron's ambitious vision for this franchise just yet, here's another detail that might convince you that he's in the world-building business. In 2010, Jon Landau told MTV that Cameron was planning to write a novel that offers more insight into the various characters' backgrounds. Specifically, he said that we'd be hearing about Dr. Augustine's time teaching in the schoolhouse and details about Jake's identical twin brother Tommy.  

Landau noted that it wouldn't be a novelization of the first movie, but a separate story that went into more detail than the film could fit in. Cameron also confirmed this, saying that he'd intended to write a novel if the movie made money — so that's a definite yes. But as the plans for the films stalled, it seems that the book did too. Then, in 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported that publishers Penguin Random House had teamed up with Cameron to release "a wide range" of books based on Avatar and the world of Pandora, for both children and adults. According to the publishers, these will be released over several years, starting in the lead up to Avatar 2 — meaning we still have a while to wait.

Meanwhile, we have comics

Books aren't Cameron's only excursion from screen to page. While we all wait for December 2021, anyone who wants to go back to Pandora can pick up Dark Horse Comics' six-issue comic series, Tsu'tey's Path. In case you need a refresher nearly 10 years on, Tsu'tey was the warrior who was supposed to couple up with Neytiri before Jake came along. Unlike those hypothetical books, Cameron won't actually be writing this. According to one of the series' actual writers, Sherri L. Smith, the story takes place around the same time as the main action in Avatar, but it shows Tsu'tey's side of things.

While the films and the books have been on a constantly delayed timeline, the comics are out and available right now. The first issue came out on January 16, 2019, and in November 2019, you'll be able to buy a book collecting the first six issues, plus the short story "Brothers," which came out on Free Comic Book Day 2017. After years of rumors and skepticism, this is the most tangible sign of solid progress — but watch this space.

A behind-the-scenes photo marked the end of Avatar 2's live-action production for 2019

Although it still feels like a long time until we'll be sitting down to watch Avatar 2, production is swimming along behind closed doors, and recently hit a milestone. On November 29th 2019, the official Avatar Twitter account posted a photo from the set, with a caption announcing that they'd wrapped on live-action shooting for the year. They also explained that what appears to be a warehouse lined in blue screens with a tank and a boat in the center is actually "the aft well deck section of the Sea Dragon," a transport ship for other vessels that will appear in the sequels.

This is the sum total of what we'll be seeing for now. In response to a fan who asked when we'll get to see a trailer, the Avatar account replied, "Unfortunately not any time soon (sorry!)" But they added that in 2020, they're planning to launch Avatar: Pandora Rising — a mobile strategy game where you can play as Na'vi or humans, teaming up with other players to either protect Pandora or mine Unobtanium. And while you're giving your thumbs a workout, according to the official Avatar Twitter account, they'll be back to work on Avatar 2 in New Zealand, filming on new sets, moving us closer to the return to Pandora frame by frame.

Cameron unveils Avatar 2 concept art — and a surprise

Our first glimpse of Pandora 2.0 came on January 6th, 2020, when Cameron revealed concept art for Avatar 2. The unveiling happened at CES, the trade-show for the Consumer Technology Association — a suitably sci-fi setting for a movie that promises to showcase the very best of film technology. Also tweeted from the official Avatar account, the art is more of a tease than a true insight. Given what we already know about the setting for Avatar 2, it's unsurprising to see lots of glistening blue water, but sadly, Cameron won't take us beyond the surface yet. The visual revelations aren't exactly at the mind-blowing level Cameron has been promising, but with the movie's release date nearly two years away, that's hardly surprising.

What was surprising, at least initially, was Cameron's choice of platform within CES. The visionary filmmaker spoke at Daimler's keynote presentation alongside Ola Källenius, chairman of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz. It turns out that as well as working on all of the upcoming Avatar movies, Cameron has been collaborating with Mercedes-Benz to release a concept car, the AVTR (Advanced Vehicle Transformation), inspired by some of the creatures from the Avatar world. The car is made from sustainable materials, can move sideways (sort of), and has a console that can communicate via subtle gestures and recognize a driver's heartbeat, taking the place of a traditional steering wheel. Unlike Avatar 2, the AVTR has no release date — it's strictly display-only.