Everything We Know

Everything We Know About James Cameron's Avatar Sequels

Fresh out of CinemaCon, we finally have a title and a plot description for the first sequel, and we break down what we know about the rest.

by | May 9, 2022 | Comments

When we last saw the final images of James Cameron’s blockbuster 2009 film Avatar, all humans, with the exceptions of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and a select few others, had been expelled from the Na’vi planet of Pandora and sent back to Earth. Lucky Jake was then transferred permanently into his avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls.

In the years since, children have grown up and parents have welcomed grandchildren waiting for sequels that never arrived. Snapchat launched. The Cubs won a World Series. Why the interminable delay? Cameron, a renowned perfectionist, had to wait until the technologies for underwater CGI caught up to his ambitious visions of a world completely submerged in H2O. Now that it finally has, Cameron’s master plan is in place: he’s shooting four sequels back to back, two at a time.

Still image from Avatar: The Way of Water

(Photo by 20th Century Studios)

To say this is the longest anticipated wait for a sequel in movie history would not be an understatement: Avatar remains the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.8 billion worldwide at the box office.

Speaking at a Vivid event in Sydney, Cameron told vfxblog, “I guarantee one thing: Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all going to be in 3D and they will look sumptuous… they will be, to the best of my ability, the best 3D that’s possible to make.” And thanks to a presentation at CinemaCon in April of 2022, we now know a lot more at least about Avatar 2 — or, rather, Avatar: The Way of Water. Read on for more details.

[Updated 5/9/22]

Who’s In Them?

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and CCH Pounder will reprise their original roles, with Sigourney Weaver, who played Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar, expected to return in a different role. Notable newcomers include Titanic star Kate Winslet, Game Of Thrones’ Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin), David Thewlis (the Harry Potter films), and Cliff Curtis (Fear The Walking Dead).

If your favorite character died in the first film, not to worry. Cameron is bringing back Stephen Lang as Col. Quartich, last seen expiring from two arrows embedded in his chest, for all four films.  The director sounds pretty excited about it, as he told Empire Online:

“The interesting conceit of the Avatar sequels is it’s pretty much the same characters…. There are new characters and a lot of new settings and creatures, so I’m taking characters you know and putting them in unfamiliar places and moving them on this greater journey. But it’s not a whole bunch of new characters every time. There’s not a new villain every time, which is interesting. Same guy. Same motherf–ker through all four movies. He is so good and he just gets better. I know Stephen Lang is gonna knock this out of the park.”

What Are They About?

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Plotlines are being kept under wraps, but we know the films will be set on Pandora. Back in 2018, Cameron gave a thematic overview to Gizmodo: “I found myself as a father of five starting to think about what would an Avatar story be like if it was a family drama, if it was The Godfather… So, that’s really what it is. It’s a generational family saga. And that’s very different from the first film.”

Even as far back as 2010, Vulture quoted Cameron discussing his plans for Avatar 2. “Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment — a different setting within Pandora. And I’m going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won’t be a rain forest. I’m not saying we won’t see what we’ve already seen; we’ll see more of that as well.”

All of that tracks with what we learned from the CinemaCon presentation in April, namely that the second film, officially titled Avatar: The Way of Water, will focus on Sully (Worthington) and the family he has made with Neytiri (Saldana). As the official synopsis for it says, the sequel “begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.”

What Were The Technical Challenges?

Mark Fellman/20th Century Fox

(Photo by Mark Fellman/20th Century Fox)

Shooting with complicated underwater motion-capture technology is, as you might expect, difficult. Cameron told Collider, “The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror… Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets ten times harder.”

While Cameron says that water will be a part of Avatar 4 and 5, the real emphasis will be on 2 and 3. The CinemaCon presentation included a new trailer, full of 3D footage that not only showcased the lakes and oceans of Pandora but also the various wildlife living in and around them. That trailer is set to play in front of showings of Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which opens on May 6, 2022.

When Will They Come Out?

20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Avatar: The Way of Water was originally set to premiere on December 17, 2021, almost 12 years to the day after the original’s premiere, but production in New Zealand was put on hold in March of 2020 due to coronavirus concerns. That first sequel is currently scheduled to open on December 16, 2022, followed by sequels 3, 4, and 5 in December 2024, December 2026, and December 2028, respectively.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.


Tag Cloud

kaiju adaptation Paramount Network Reality FXX Ovation ABC Signature rom-coms Disney Channel comic Epix AMC LGBT asian-american 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards historical drama ratings ESPN USA Network spanish dc Marvel cops TCA 2017 Awards Tour comic book movie Apple Elton John social media ghosts franchise cancelled television aapi sequel Shudder Discovery Channel BAFTA women Set visit VICE fresh children's TV IFC Films spanish language Red Carpet cartoon biopic TCA Winter 2020 DirecTV heist movie indiana jones festival Showtime Tumblr feel good Disney streaming service Netflix IFC werewolf Esquire Turner Classic Movies new zealand discovery Trophy Talk Western WGN slasher live event Pop Marvel Studios BBC One rt archives Sony Pictures space SundanceTV docudrama japanese Women's History Month Infographic cinemax die hard Hear Us Out Polls and Games screen actors guild book adaptation satire Opinion Sundance Now lord of the rings Turner prank Reality Competition international war italian PaleyFest USA Sci-Fi comics Biopics Superheroes First Look Best and Worst Fantasy Comics on TV Best Actress Mystery royal family Writers Guild of America Lifetime science fiction universal monsters FX TV One Masterpiece reboot legend ID witnail sports comic books CNN Awards what to watch Lucasfilm LGBTQ Spectrum Originals Sundance high school Cannes finale E! Super Bowl comedies sopranos First Reviews Shondaland hispanic heritage month mission: impossible BBC Superheroe stop motion Pet Sematary SXSW 2022 MCU obituary pirates of the caribbean Musicals slashers Disney+ Disney Plus composers NBC dexter kids Mindy Kaling disaster canceled Classic Film screenings ABC The CW Stephen King godzilla transformers Amazon nfl Syfy Captain marvel Netflix Christmas movies HBO Mary poppins boxing know your critic TV Land theme song GIFs 99% Binge Guide Apple TV+ trailers AMC Plus Lifetime Christmas movies anthology HBO Max nature blockbusters 2016 jurassic park cars sag awards green book Universal Pictures Columbia Pictures kong Hollywood Foreign Press Association king arthur video on demand RT21 psychological thriller TLC critics Pixar Best Director serial killer christmas movies Photos target saw best deadpool South by Southwest Film Festival GLAAD strong female leads elevated horror unscripted Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Disney king kong cancelled TV series stand-up comedy emmy awards The Walking Dead CW Seed hispanic halloween cancelled TV shows popular Black History Month scene in color 2021 hidden camera art house Television Critics Association canceled TV shows Paramount VOD Countdown Ellie Kemper TruTV south america TCM documentaries Character Guide BET Awards YA award winner TCA Awards 2017 Country independent blockbuster debate DC Universe period drama 79th Golden Globes Awards Oscars cooking natural history true crime singing competition PBS 2019 adenture Music basketball classics adventure based on movie technology marvel cinematic universe comiccon Black Mirror CMT new star wars movies Summer fast and furious remakes dogs 72 Emmy Awards TNT spider-verse james bond french Walt Disney Pictures toronto Television Academy Apple TV Plus cats political drama golden globes Mudbound 21st Century Fox concert CBS All Access binge robots Mary Tyler Moore crime thriller Tomatazos Arrowverse genre Cosplay Trailer festivals Broadway Bravo name the review renewed TV shows Amazon Prime spy thriller Quiz films SDCC worst movies animated IMDb TV new york TV movies television action-comedy Fargo rotten movies we love Creative Arts Emmys black comedy diversity police drama docuseries Box Office football Pacific Islander Mary Poppins Returns Comic-Con@Home 2021 Nominations Election gangster Rocky video Pride Month Wes Anderson black Hulu MSNBC RT History Pop TV Grammys politics news YouTube Premium Vudu batman halloween tv Teen OWN DC streaming service vs. 20th Century Fox dragons superman Comedy Central National Geographic Hallmark Christmas movies Avengers Watching Series tv talk Action Toys richard e. Grant BBC America Tags: Comedy YouTube Red movies Ghostbusters indie Oscar TIFF obi wan Spike History comic book movies anime vampires Nickelodeon See It Skip It blaxploitation scary venice nbcuniversal Neflix Sneak Peek Thanksgiving 24 frames Alien Anna Paquin Funimation zombie Starz GoT Peacock Hallmark teaser Travel Channel Family rotten American Society of Cinematographers Academy Awards FX on Hulu breaking bad live action worst dceu TV Musical cults 2015 book Cartoon Network Universal Legendary revenge Drama 71st Emmy Awards TV renewals chucky Year in Review Schedule quibi latino archives Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doctor who Best Picture zero dark thirty scary movies ABC Family Adult Swim President young adult NBA Brie Larson spinoff HBO Go NYCC San Diego Comic-Con Holiday movie Logo Acorn TV VH1 MTV SXSW wonder woman critic resources mcc Film Festival WarnerMedia Food Network sequels Chernobyl Marathons PlayStation justice league game of thrones The Academy trophy DC Comics 73rd Emmy Awards TBS Spring TV Amazon Studios Comic Book Winners psycho romance Christmas Endgame parents streamig mob Paramount Plus Kids & Family A&E superhero free movies mutant Freeform Horror Holidays Fox Searchlight reviews TCA The Witch Warner Bros. miniseries series documentary CBS dark Crackle child's play El Rey rt labs rt labs critics edition romantic comedy criterion spider-man summer preview posters APB Sundance TV 007 Star Trek Image Comics 2018 MGM Pirates YouTube The Purge Valentine's Day olympics Rocketman summer TV preview foreign leaderboard Interview facebook streaming movies Premiere Dates Emmy Nominations Nat Geo sitcom The Walt Disney Company Fall TV Animation Amazon Prime Video crime 1990s Song of Ice and Fire Britbox Comedy Marvel Television Crunchyroll 45 game show mockumentary toy story 94th Oscars Lionsgate 2020 93rd Oscars supernatural Certified Fresh versus OneApp cancelled hist summer TV Exclusive Video HFPA Rock The Arrangement Calendar scorecard Fox News medical drama suspense New York Comic Con ITV Extras biography razzies Winter TV japan Baby Yoda dramedy spain Star Wars streaming casting talk show Video Games hollywood a nightmare on elm street Best Actor joker twilight Dark Horse Comics thriller Rom-Com DGA monster movies travel 90s 4/20 Prime Video A24 Disney Plus FOX Instagram Live Tubi Film Tokyo Olympics dreamworks boxoffice crossover aliens Martial Arts Tarantino Trivia ViacomCBS australia crime drama X-Men E3 zombies jamie lee curtis stoner telelvision Emmys Heroines harry potter marvel comics BET all-time Podcast laika golden globe awards directors