More than a decade after the first film’s record-breaking 2009 theatrical release, filmmaker James Cameron’s ambitious slate of planned “Avatar” sequels is inching ever closer to completion. After years of chatter, a slew of pushed-back release dates, and one production-delaying pandemic, Cameron’s opus is back on track, and with two nearly finished films (of a planned five-film series) nearly done.
Deadline reports that, during a video chat with his “Terminator“ star Arnold Schwarzenegger for the 2020 Austrian World Summit, Cameron shared that “Avatar 2” is “100 percent complete,” with “Avatar 3” clocking in at being “sort of 95 percent complete.” Cameron added the production team is currently filming the remainder of the third film’s live action sequences.
Cameron confirmed last December that all the motion capture work on “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” had been completed. The crew was planning to return to New Zealand in the spring to complete the live-action pickups needed on “Avatar 2” when the coronavirus disrupted those plans. Production on the “Avatar 2” sequels was officially suspended March 17 and it resumed in early June.
Cameron explained that the production lost “about four and a half months” due to the pandemic, which “hit us like it hit everybody, it hit us hard.” Still, Cameron praised New Zealand’s management of the outbreak, commenting, “We’re very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago. We made the first film here in New Zealand and it turns out to be ranking first or second best country in the world for its COVID response.”
As Deadline notes, “in June, New Zealand announced it was virus free, though an August outbreak in Auckland forced a new alert level that has since been downgraded.” Still, Cameron and his crew were given special permission to return to film, and he added, “We’re able to operate. We’re able to shoot and have a more or less normal life here. We were very fortunate, so I don’t see any roadblocks to us getting the picture finished, getting both pictures finished.”
In July, Disney pushed back all of the planned “Avatar” sequels, along with a number of its high-powered franchises. “Avatar 2” will now arrive on December 16, 2022, with “Avatar 3” set for December 20, 2024. The fourth and fifth films are due in 2026 and 2028.
As for any other information beyond basic production notes, Cameron played coy. “I can’t tell you anything about the story,” he told Schwarzenegger. “I believe in the mystery and the great reveal.”
You can check out the full video of Cameron and Schwarzenegger’s conversation below.