Avatar creator James Cameron made a huge announcement today at CinemaCon, ComingSoon reports.
With rumors of Avatar 2 remaining just that for the last few years, fans were starting to lose hope that he would ever deliver a worthy continuation.
Well, worry no longer.
Not only will Avatar 2 be coming in 2018, but Avatar 3, 4, and 5, already have tentative release dates as well, with part three dropping in 2020; part four following in 2022; and part five coming just one year later in 2023.
It has been no big mystery that Cameron was working toward this. In a statement around the end of last year, he remarked that the scripts were in place for parts two, three, and four, but that the technology was still delayed.
Cameron has been a long-time king of tech when it comes to filmmaking. His early work in Terminator, Aliens, and T2: Judgment Day broke new ground for what was capable in a movie.
The wreck scene in Titanic also garnered considerable praise, even among those who weren’t as crazy about the movie as a whole.
With Avatar, he took it to a whole new level, though, using motion capture and facial recognition technology to create CG characters and environments that were incredibly lifelike.
Audiences responded in the U.S. by helping it gross $749 million in 2009 dollars. That’s around $834 million today ($846 million when factoring in re-releases), according to Box Office Mojo.
As for the worldwide take, that was enough to elevate Avatar to the position of highest-grossing film of all time, doing more than $2 billion in international business.
This brought the worldwide tally to $2.787 billion, a number that no other film has been able to touch, even his own Titanic and the recent smash hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Whether that enthusiasm holds for four more films remains to be seen. The first film was generally well-liked among both critics and audiences. Critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes awarded it an 83 percent rating, while audiences gave it 82 percent.
However, unlike Star Wars movies, which have a track record of box office performance across a larger number of movies, Avatar doesn’t have a data precedent.
The long layoff from 2009 to 2018 will certainly help Avatar 2 numbers, and if the FX, reviews, and audience reaction are solid, then it can probably expect another strong U.S. performance. Whether it’s able to top the initial entry, however, will be dependent on the international enthusiasm, which was quite strong seven years ago.
Historically, box office numbers have trickled downward over time with sequels performing poorer the more films there are and the less distance there is from one movie to the next.
Star Wars is a great example of this.
Box office tallies for the initial George Lucas trilogy grew worse from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, going from $775 million to $538 million to $475 million, respectively (worldwide numbers).
Then, there was a 16-year layoff from Jedi to The Phantom Menace. TPM benefited with a $1 billion worldwide take, but that number fell to $649 million in the next film. Revenge of the Sith was the only one that defied expectations with an $848 million haul, but it also had the promise of Darth Vader and being the last Star Wars film for the foreseeable future.
(This was before Lucas sold the property to Disney.)
If Avatar follows a similar pattern, Avatar 2 is likely to be the only film of the next four with a shot at besting its predecessor.
From there, box office performance will depend largely on how good of a story Cameron can tell in the waning films.
But what do you think, readers? Are you excited for four more Avatar films? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Avatar screen grab]