James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequels have been so long delayed that they’ve become a cinephile punching bag. IndieWire chief film critic David Ehrlich once wrote that moviegoers should never underestimate Cameron’s ability to deliver a worthy tentpole, but HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver isn’t as optimistic. The Emmy winner trashed Cameron’s “Avatar” sequels on the most recent episode of his HBO talker while discussing the 2009 Climate Change Global Conference, which failed to deliver on its mission of getting richer nations to help poorer nations with climate change issues.
“There are things it’s ok to take a decade on and not deliver on: the ‘Avatar’ sequels, for instance,” Oliver said (via Uproxx). “Take your time on those, James Cameron. No one gives a shit…I will give anyone in this audience $1,000 right now if they remember either of these characters’ names.”
Oliver had up a picture of the two “Avatar” protagonists played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. Of course their names are Jake Sully and Neytiri, respectively. Both actors will reprise their roles in “Avatar 2,” which is currently set to arrive in theaters 13 years after the original on December 16, 2022. Cast members Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, and Giovanni Ribisi are also returning, while new faces will be played by the likes of Cameron’s “Titanic” breakout Kate Winslet. Cameron shot “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” back-to-back, with pieces of further sequels filmed as well.
Stephen Lang, who plays the villainous Colonel Miles Quaritch, spoke to The National in May about how overwhelming it was to film so much footage for multiple sequels Cameron has planned. “I’ve given up trying to keep track,” Lang said when asked how many script pages and hours of footage had been filmed. “The whole thing gets a little confusing.”
Cameron kicked off production on the “Avatar” sequels in September 2017. The director said in December 2020 that motion capture scenes for “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” were completed in their entirety, while the first part of motion capture for “Avatar 4” is done. Live action filming was “mostly done” on the first two sequels at the time as well. Following “Avatar 2” in December 2022, “Avatar 3” will open December 20, 2024.