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James Cameron's first Avatar sequel won't hit theaters in 2018 after all

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The film was tentatively scheduled for 2018

Avatar

If you’ve been waiting for Avatar 2 to hit theaters next year, keep holding your breath. James Cameron told The Toronto Star that “2018 is not happening,” for the kickoff to his growing science fiction series.

Speaking to the paper, Cameron noted that the first film took a long time to come together, and that the additional sequels are what he described as an “epic undertaking,” that will likely consume the next eight years of his life.

Following the release of the first Avatar film in 2009, Cameron noted that he planned to film two additional sequels. In the years since, those two sequels have ballooned to four, which would be filmed back to back. As the project has gotten more ambitious, the release date has been successively pushed back, first from 2015, then to 2016, 2017, 2018, and now to some indeterminate year beyond. The announcement comes just after the filmmaker helped showcase Disney’s new Pandora: The World of Avatar park in Orlando, Florida, and just a couple of weeks after Ubisoft announced a new game for the franchise.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the first film was a huge technological feat, one that used extensive motion capture technology and helped bring 3D films mainstream. Avatar was a famously complicated project, and as Cameron’s plans have gotten more ambitious, it’s reasonable to expect that there’s much to get lined up before he begins shooting any footage.

However, while Cameron works to plan out his sequels, the news does beg a question: is there actually demand for an Avatar franchise? The film hasn’t really caught on with audiences in the same way that other big science fiction properties, like Star Wars or Star Trek have. Given the monumental costs of the first film, four successive, expensive sequels will be incredibly risky if audiences don’t respond the way they did in 2009. Since the first film was a novelty, showcasing a 3D viewing experience and some impressive visual effects, it’s hard to imagine a similar response a decade later. That being said, Cameron did say that it would be an epic undertaking, and the extra time that he’s taking to get the project right could be just what it needs to succeed with audiences, whenever it hits theaters.