James Cameron compares ‘Avatar’ sequels to spin-off TV: ‘It’s Really One Big Story’ (Exclusive Video)

With “Avatar: The Way of Water” continuing to hit the box office, there are plenty of stories to tell in the world of Pandora. And according to James Cameron, the next four “Avatar” sequels complete what was envisioned as “one big story,” adding that “Avatar 4” and “Avatar 5” are fully written, designed, and ready to go.

“I think the thing people have to remember here is that we’ve been out of the market for a long time,” Cameron told TheWrap during an interview for the “Way of Water” cover story conducted prior to the film’s release. But part of that was that we were putting five movies into the pipeline. I mean one we’ve already done, four new movies and we’ve shot two movies back-to-back — movie 2, movie 3, part of movie 4, and that has to do with kind of the story point and the big time jump that happens. Because we wanted to shoot kids because they were getting old so fast. (“Avatar 4”) fully written and fully designed, (“Avatar 5″) fully written and fully designed. These movies are in our minds. These stories are there.”

In fact, Cameron says now that after the decade-long gap between the first two films, the plan is to release sequels at a more regular pace to meet audiences’ investment in characters.

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“We know exactly what we’re doing. We know what those movies are going to be. We just have to go through the process of getting them done. So ideally two years from now it’s coming out (“Avatar 3”), ideally maybe three years from now. [“Avatar 4”] He comes out, and ideally maybe two years after that (“Avatar 5”) he comes out. So we’re not going to walk away from the market, so we’re going to have that sense of a perpetual world, an ongoing story that I think people want. If they’re going to invest in these characters, if they’re going to invest in this world, we want to give them a regular rhythm. This was the game plan. This is one of the reasons we have been gone for so long.”

The Oscar-winning director added that thanks to years of developing, writing, and designing all four sequels simultaneously, there’s an entire saga to tell, comparing each installment of the “Avatar” series to a TV episode in an ongoing series.

“Each of these scripts had to come to its own story conclusion and emotional resolution,” said producer Jon Landau.

“It’s one big story,” Cameron added. “It’s really one big story, but it’s like episodic TV. Each one has its own near decision. The character problems continue through the story.”

All that said, Cameron wisely knows that the best laid plans still depend on the market response to “Avatar: The Way of Water” and its sequels, saying he’s not yet confident they’ll get an “Avatar 5” (though it’s worth noting that this interview performed before the release of the movie “Water Road”).

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“You have market forces at play. Are we profitable? Nobody makes a sequel to a movie that isn’t profitable. So yeah, we’ll have to see what happens.”

Considering the performance of “Way of Water” so far, it looks like “Avatar 3” at least is guaranteed to happen. Furthermore, will the franchise face diminishing returns, or will Cameron complete this saga himself over the next six years? Time will tell.

As of now, 20th Century Studios has set December release dates for “Avatar 3” in 2024, “Avatar 4” in 2026 and “Avatar 5” in 2028.

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