Avatar 4 and 5 May Not Be Directed by James Cameron

James Cameron may not direct the fourth and fifth Avatar films, assuming those films get made at all. Cameron returned to direct Avatar: The Way of Water and its untitled sequel and has compared making the Avatar sequels to adapting The Lord of the Rings but without the source material. Speaking to Empire, Cameron admits that he feels how time-consuming making these films can be. In the past, Cameron handed off projects, such as when he gave Alita: Battle Angel over to Robert Rodriguez. The option to do the same with Avatar 4 and 5 remains on the table, at least for now. 

"The Avatar films themselves are kind of all-consuming," Cameron says. "I've got some other things I'm developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time – I don't know if that's after three or after four – I'll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I'm also interested in. Or maybe not. I don't know."

But the Avatar films remain personal for Cameron. He tells the magazine that the sci-fi universe and story carry many of his own views.

"Everything I need to say about family, about sustainability, about climate, about the natural world, the themes that are important to me in real life and in my cinematic life, I can say on this canvas," Cameron says. "I got more excited as I went along. Movie four is a corker. It's a motherfucker. I actually hope I get to make it. But it depends on market forces. Three is in the can so it's coming out regardless. I really hope that we get to make four and five because it's one big story, ultimately."

Cameron has spoken about those "market forces" before. They will ultimately determine the Avatar series' fate.

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"The big issue is: Are we going to make any damn money?" Cameron told Entertainment Weekly in December 2021. "Big, expensive films have got to make a lot of money. We're in a new world post-COVID, post-streaming. Maybe those [box office] numbers will never be seen again. Who knows? It's all a big roll of the dice."

Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters on December 16th. The original Avatar, which remains the highest-grossing film of all time at the box office, returns to theaters on September 23rd.