We'd already heard rumors that James Cameron had found three sequels a little limiting for his Avatar follow-ups, and on stage at CinemaCon today he made it official. The filmmaker announced that no less than four new sequels to his 3D epic are in the works, with the first hitting theaters in 2018.
The filmmaker discussed the many ways in which he is expanding the world — a theme park with Disney in in the works, and his company has signed a deal with Dark Horse Comics for graphic novel spin-offs — but the movies themselves are obviously the biggest component. The Avatar sequels have been a moving target since he first announced he was working on them, and Cameron has since assembled what amounts to a screenwriting superteam to break the story for the various films. As it stands, the second film in the series will be coming out in the holiday season of 2018, with the subsequent films arriving in 2020, 2022, and 2023.
"It's going to be a true epic saga."
"It's going to be a true epic saga that's told in this rich and complex world," Cameron assured the theater owners, while also taking the moment on stage to voice his support for exclusive theatrical windows for movie releases — a hot topic at this year's show thanks to the recent emergence of Sean Parker's The Screening Room initiative, which would allow audiences to rent first-run movies from their living room. As Cameron framed it, technology threatening movie theaters was nothing new. "There's always been some kind of threat to the theater-going experience," he said, "but we've always answered that threat in the same way. By being great, and showmanship."
When word about The Screening Room first broke it got an early wave of support from filmmakers like J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, and Steven Spielberg, but Cameron has been a vocal member of the anti-streaming forces. He made his position perfectly clear on Thursday morning. "I think it’s absolutely essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters on their initial release," he said.