James Cameron Abandoning The Avatar Sequels?

Say it ain't so!

By Mark McKee | Published

james cameron

Bringing in a combined total of $6.3 billion from the movies he has helmed, James Cameron is one of the most successful film directors of all time. Behind the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and the Russo Brothers, Cameron is arguably one of the fathers of the science-fiction genre. With films like The Terminator, Aliens, and Titanic, he is one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood today. His biggest box-office smash of his career came in 2009 with the release of the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avatar. Now, over a decade later, fans are getting the first of a reported four sequels. However, James Cameron himself may not be sticking around for all of them. 

Some projects are larger than life. When you take on a franchise installment as Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings, the Russo Brothers with Avengers: Endgame, or J.J. Abrahms with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the pressure can take over your life. The fanbase is going to hold you and your work to the utmost scrutiny and the highest of standards. James Cameron has the additional pressure of creating the entirety of Avatar from the ground up. The other examples had source material to adapt from and a history to build upon. Avatar is a baby made in Cameron’s own mind. Because of this, the legendary director spoke to Empire and gave some insight on the possibility that he would remain at the helm for all four proposed sequels. In the interview, he called the projects all-consuming. He says he has other things he is developing and wants to ensure he gets an opportunity to do so. 

Avatar 2 & 3 were filmed back to back, with James Cameron in the director’s chair, so those are happening. The first sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, hits theaters this December, with Avatar 3 slated for a 2024 release. But after that is up in the air. He continues to talk about the possibility of handing the last two sequels over to a director he trusts to free him up to pursue other projects. However, he specifies the importance of giving the same messages on family, sustainability, climate, and the natural world. According to him, the fourth movie is a big part of the story, so he hopes he gets a chance to make it. Either way, in the words of the famous director, the saga is just beginning. 

While we know James Cameron from the big-budget films that blow up the box office, he has other passions. His other loves of diving and exploring influenced his films The Abyss and Titanic, and his exploration of the latter’s wreckage led to us learning more about the fated ship than ever before. Cameron worked to develop the technology that aided him and other divers in exploring the Titanic and, in turn, gave him the as-of-yet undeveloped technical ability to create underwater worlds Avatar: Way of Water required. We may have been forced to wait a decade while he developed what was needed, but knowing Cameron, it will be worth the wait.