James Cameron Says Avatar 3 Could Be the End of the Franchise for One Huge Reason

Filmmaker James Cameron has big plans for his Avatar franchise. While it's been thirteen years since the release of Avatar, the second film Avatar: The Way of Water is headed to theaters in just over a month, Avatar 3 is set to debut in 2024, and there are still two more movies planned after that, taking the franchise all the way out to five films. But plans are not guarantees and even Cameron acknowledges that Avatar 3 could mark the end of the franchise for one huge reason: the box office. In an interview with Total Film (via Gamesradar), Cameron explains that if The Way of Water and Avatar 3 don't make a major splash at the box office, it could be the end of the franchise.

"The market could be telling us we're done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: 'OK, let's complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly,' if it's just not profitable," Cameron said.

And being profitable could be an uphill challenge. All four of the Avatar sequels have a staggering reported budget of around a billion dollars and while Avatar was a massive box office hit, the box office isn't what it was thirteen years ago. Both the pandemic and the rise of streaming have taken a toll and could have a huge impact on how well the sequels perform.

"We're in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even," Cameron said. "It's the one-two punch — the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we'll remind people what going to the theatre is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a sh-t now?"

What is Avatar 2 about?

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family, the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. The film 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, and CJ Jones.

Avatar: The Way of Water is set to arrive on December 16, 2022, with Avatar 3 set to debut two years later on December 20, 2024.