And maybe we should be, too. In a recent interview about an unrelated project, Saldana–who happens to be part of three of the highest grossing films of all time (including Avatar)– discussed the oft-delayed sequel to the oft-maligned film. And apparently, it was so good it made her cry after only 20 minutes.
Let’s Talk About Avatar. Released in 2009–an entirely different era–Avatar, with its giant blue people and Titanic-level ambitions, managed to resonate with enough people to out gross Titanic during its initial run. Like Titanic, it just kept making money. Its special effects still look groundbreaking, showcasing an unmatched blend of 3D and motion capture. (In fact, it’s usually one of the first movies I watch when I buy a new TV.) It is a big film, earnest in its intentions, with enough color and world-building to keep you invested until the inevitable action-packed third-act. Some people really hated it, ostensibly for its recycled themes. I am not one of those people. Disney also didn’t hate it; in fact, under the tutelage of our dear Bob Iger, it opened an entire World (of Avatar) themed to the film. Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the land is famous for its “floating” mountains and fantastic rides, one of them being Avatar: Flight of Passage–my all-time favorite Walt Disney World ride. You can even purchase a banshee to perch on your shoulder as you wander throughout the other, more earth-focused lands at the theme park. In 2021, the movie made even more money when it was rereleased in China. Avatar remains the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, despite the dominance of Marvel Studios in the States.
So what do we know about the sequel? Like many Cameron films, the journey towards the Avatar sequels provide enough material to comprise their own film. (I can already picture the “making of” and behind the scenes features on Disney+.)There have many, many delays, due to technological limitations and the pandemic (the initial sequel was initially intended to be released in 2014). Several actors from the original film are somehow returning. It will be primarily set underwater. Kate Winslet (among others) joined the cast, adding both depth (see what I did there) to the cast, and recording-breaking free-dive talent: she famously, unknowingly broke Tom Cruise’s record for filming underwater. Damn. With regards to the plot, we know that Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Saldana) will have children, who may be the focus of the film. The film will also introduce new clans, and new settings within Pandora (including its oceans, which are the subject of much discussion due to the technical difficulties presented with underwater filming, and James Cameron’s decision to plunge headfirst into that challenge).
Avatar is set to be released in theaters on December 16, 2022. Suffice to say that there are high expectations riding on its box office performance. But if anyone can pull off a successful sequel, it’s James Cameron.