Avatar 4: All We Know
James Cameron's Avatar 4 is expected to hit theaters in 2026 and will bring back Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, among others.
James Cameron once said of his planned Avatar sequels, including Avatar 4, “I can tell you one thing about them. They’re gonna be bitchin’. You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open.” These prophetic words came back in 2014 and with the recent release of Avatar: The Way of Water, “bitchin” is definitely one way of describing the sequel.
Cameron, though, described “them,” as in a number of sequels. We recently broke down everything we know about Avatar 3. Now it is time to move forward to Avatar 4 and see what we know about the planned third sequel to the all-time box office money-making hit, Avatar.
SAM WORTHINGTON, ZOE SALDANA, AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER SHOULD ALL RETURN FOR AVATAR 4
We already know which cast members will be moving forward from Avatar: The Way of Water to the third film in the series. So unless we get a shocking death of one or two of the main characters (though shocking deaths don’t necessarily mean the end for a character), they could possibly all return for Avatar 4.
These would include Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Britain Dalton, and of course, Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. As you may recall, Colonel Quaritch lost his life in dramatic form in the very first Avatar, which makes his return in Avatar: The Way of Water something unexpected and in need of explanation.
According to James Cameron, though, not only does Lang’s character return as the big, bad villain in the sequel but the third and fourth films as well.
You can’t really have a sequel if you aren’t willing to introduce new characters into the mix and this is exactly what Cameron and his writers have done. Avatar: The Way of Water brought in new talents such as Cliff Curtis, CCH Pounder, Bailey Bass, and Kate Winslet. While we know they will all be returning for Avatar 3, how and if they move on to Avatar 4 is still in question. What makes it seem likely that most, if not all, will be moving on to the fourth film is the way Cameron has had to shoot his sequels.
For the story he wants to tell, Cameron had to shoot the sequel and the third film at the same time. He needed to keep continuity and not have his films end up, as he says, with a “Stranger Things effect” where the characters are “supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they’re 27.”
Cameron had his cast shoot scenes for the third film, and they were also shooting scenes for the fourth film as well.
Winslet told WTF Podcast’s host Marc Maron that she was never sure if she was shooting her scenes for Avatar: The Way of Water or for Avatar 3, which means she more than likely didn’t know if any of her scenes were for Avatar 4.
Producer Jon Landau recently confirmed that most of the third film has been shot, along with part of the fourth. “We went out and we shot all of movie two. We shot 95% of movie three. We have a little bit that we have to still pick up.” Then he added, “And we shot the first act of movie 4.”
THE PLOT FOR AVATAR 4 ISN’T KNOWN
Most filmmakers shooting sequels give out very little detail as to the direction of the story. What we do know is that the films are building to where the story eventually will take viewers off of Pandora and back to Earth. According to James Cameron, Avatar 4 could be when this happens, leading everything back to an Earth that is a few hundred years into our future. It’s there we will see the damage done to it by humans.
Of course, the future of the Avatar films all comes down to box office returns. It is estimated that Avatar: The Way of Water cost Cameron between $350-$400 million to make and according to the director himself, “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.” So, what does this mean? It means simply to get to the break-even point, the second Avatar film will need to hit $2 billion at the box office.
How does this translate for not only Avatar 3 but for an Avatar 4 film that has already begun filming? It means massive box office returns. And so far, Cameron and crew have to be happy with what they have seen from the box office during the film’s first two weeks of release.
The Christmas holiday has been delivering nice presents to Cameron with the film already topping the $1 billion mark.
AVATAR 4 IS EXPECTED TO HIT THEATERS IN 2026
When they were first leaked, the titles of Cameron’s Avatar sequels were met with astonishment and jokes. The leak, which came way back in 2018, apparently was right on the money with the first sequel: Avatar: The Way of Water was the title. So, if that stands to reason, the third film in the series will be called Avatar: The Seed Bearer (now you know where the jokes came from).
According to the leak, Avatar 4 will then be called, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and if Cameron gets that far, the fifth film is said to be titled, Avatar: The Quest for Eywa.
Also known is the release window for the planned sequels. The 68-year-old Cameron wants a two-year pause between films (much more palatable than the 13 between the first and second films) so this would mean fans would see Avatar 3 in 2024, and Avatar 4 in 2026, with Avatar 5 hitting theaters in 2028.
JAMES CAMERON HAD A THREE-TIER APPROACH TO MAKING AVATAR
Is there enough in this franchise to warrant not only an Avatar 3 but to continue on at least through an Avatar 4? By most accounts, from both critics and audiences, the film is a virtual visual masterpiece, but there is a story that needs to be told. And here is where Cameron’s film dips for many.
In usual and typical Cameron form, he drives the bus and when someone else attempts to take the wheel, he can get quite testy. This was the case when he began to develop the stories that turned into Avatar: The Way of Water and the following Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 sequels. He made threats – get on board or get on out.
“When I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there were going to be three at the time and eventually it turned into four, I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anybody’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we have spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected, and why it worked,’” Cameron explained recently on The Marianne Williamson Podcast.
“They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We aren’t doing that yet.’ Eventually I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is to try and create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.’”
Point made and point taken. Cameron and his writing crew then went about the task of watching the first Avatar so they could break down, in finite detail, what made the film so successful.
They mapped out what would become a three-tier structure, with the first tier simply the film’s plot. The second tier was broken down into the movie’s themes – “the spiritualism and the themes of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, human rights abuses, and nature deficit disorder.”
It was the original film’s third tier, though, that proved to be the most beneficial. “There was a tertiary level as well, and we were all in unison about it, but there was a level that was dreamlike that you could not express in a sentence,” Cameron explained to Williamson.
“It didn’t have any ‘-isms’ to it, it was a dreamlike sense of a yearning to be there, to be in that space, to be in a place that is safe and where you wanted to be. Whether that was flying, that sense of freedom and exhilaration, or whether it’s being in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was a sensory thing that communicated on such a deep level. That was the spirituality of the first film.”
Finally, Cameron took the leashes off his writers and let them explore new story ideas using this third tier as their guide. “We created and rejected many storylines for the second and third film because they didn’t take us to that transportive, dreaming-with-your-eyes-wide-open feeling.” It is also this lead that has taken them into the writing of Avatar 4.
So, for those of you who have already seen Avatar: The Way of Water, what did you think? Is there enough to make you want to continue with the series, at least through an Avatar 3 and Avatar 4? Tell us what you think.