The COVID-19 pandemic has put much of the film industry on pause, as social distancing guidelines impact both the moviegoing experience and production on upcoming blockbusters. While its release date is still a full year and a half away, some have wondered if the upcoming Avatar sequel will be impacted by our current situation. According to director James Cameron, the follow-up film, which is scheduled debut over a decade after the billion-dollar blockbuster, will hopefully be able to still make its December 2021 release date. In a recent interview with Empire, Cameron revealed that post-production and editing are still be dealt with remotely, and that they are able to hopefully make something positive out of the current situation.
"On the bright side, New Zealand seems to have been very effective in controlling the virus and their goal is not mitigation, but eradication, which they believe that they can do with aggressive contact tracing and testing," Cameron explained. "So there's a very good chance that our shoot might be delayed a couple of months, but we can still do it. So that's good news."
"We've got everybody – everybody at Weta Digital and Lightstorm – working from home to the extent that that is possible," Cameron added. "But my work is on the stage doing the virtual cameras and so on, so I can do a bit of editing, but it's not great for me."
Of course, there's still the question of the three other Avatar sequels, with Avatar 3 being shot simultaneously with Avatar 2. Cameron said that the current social distancing guidelines have put production on hold for the time being.
"It's putting a major crimp in our stride here," Cameron added. "I want to get back to work on Avatar, which right now we're not allowed to do under state emergency laws or rules. So it's all on hold right now... We were about to shoot down in New Zealand, so that got pushed. We're trying to get back to it as quick as we can."
Avatar 2 will see the return of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, CCH Pounder, and Matt Gerald. New cast members include Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Oona Chaplin, David Thewlis, Vin Diesel, and CJ Jones.
Avatar 2 will be released in theaters on December 17, 2021. If all goes according to plan, Avatar 3 will be released on December 22, 2023, Avatar 4 will be released on December 19, 2025, and Avatar 5 will be released on December 17, 2027.