20th Century Fox’s decision to invest in four Avatar sequels seemed risky when you consider that there doesn’t seem to be a particularly high level of interest in the franchise these days despite the first film being a huge hit [though not a very good film in my opinion]. Production has begun on parts three and four and will be making use of brand new, underwater motion-capture technology. However, Cameron does seem to be aware of the possibility that audiences may not flock to these films and has written them accordingly in case parts five and six don’t happen. As he said to Vanity Fair:
“Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, “Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.” Even though that all worked and everybody did”.
It really seems that instead of Fox had greenlighting all four sequels, there was a tentative agreement where the studio has given Cameron the greenlight on the first two films, but the studio’s investment on the second two movies is dependent on the box office performance of Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. And that certainly sounds like a good idea. I can’t say I’m particularly excited about these films myself despite what amazing technology Cameron may be using to help bring his universe to life.
Anyway, Avatar 2 is set to come out on December 18, 2020.