More than a decade after James Cameron‘s Avatar became the highest-grossing film of all time in 2009, audiences are getting ready to return to Pandora.
“It sounds kind of nuts, the process,” the director told Entertainment Weekly in December 2021 about the long-awaited sequel. “I mean, if Avatar hadn’t made so much damn money, we’d never do this — because it’s kind of crazy.”
Avatar 2: The Way of Water will take place in and around the ocean, which conservation advocate Cameron has long been fascinated with. “I do the ocean thing when I’m not making movies,” he added. “So if I could combine my two greatest loves — one of which is ocean exploration; the other, feature filmmaking — why wouldn’t I?”
The original Avatar introduced audiences to the Na’vi, the people who lived in the rainforests of Pandora who were attempting to protect their home as humans invaded to mine the valuable mineral unobtanium. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a disabled Marine who becomes involved in the Avatar Program with the intent to make peace with the Na’vi warriors, soon discovers the widespread damage that the military is causing to Pandora. He joins Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in a quest to expel all the humans and save the beloved Tree of Souls.
While both Sully and Neytiri will return for Avatar 2, much of the plot will actually center on their preteen children. “Ultimately, the sequels are a story about family, and the lengths parents will go through to keep that family together and keep them safe,” producer Jon Landau told EW. “I always say that Jim’s movies have universal themes — and really, there’s no more universal theme than family.”
He continued: “What we are doing now, from a story standpoint and a world standpoint, is on a much larger scale. That’s both exciting and challenging. We are putting much more detail, first and foremost, into the performances of the cast, but we’re [also] putting much more detail and diversity into the world that we are creating.”
However, the extra attention to detail meant that fans have had to wait a long time between the first and second installments. Cameron began working on the sequel’s script in 2012, one year before bringing in a writing team to help flesh out all four follow-ups at the same time.
Avatar 2 began shooting in 2017, and as of April 2022, the director is focused on the post-production process. Much of Avatar 3 was also filmed, and the third flick is scheduled for release in 2024.
Still, based on interviews with the cast and crew, Avatar 2 will be more than worth the wait. “I can get choked up just talking about it,” Saldana told Kevin McCarthy in March 2022 about the upcoming film. “I was able to see just 20 minutes of the second installment, right before the year ended, last year. And I was speechless. I was moved to tears.”
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