Avatar The Way of Water is set to cinemas this weekend, but it’s just the first of at least four sequels, with James Cameron even having plans for Avatar 6 and 7.
It’s been 13 years since Avatar first hit cinemas and broke James Cameron’s own Titanic record as the highest-grossing movie of all time. Since then the visionary director has been working tirelessly on four sequels starring original leads Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña as Jake and Neytiri. Avatar: The Way of Water is set a decade after the events of the first movie with the Na’vi couple navigating family life with their children on the planet Pandora during the mid-22nd century. The four sequels will be standalone outings but will have a connected narrative thread throughout, including the same threat.
Stephan Lang returns in Avatar: The Way of Water and its three follow-ups as the villainous Colonel Miles Quaritch. Although he died in the first movie, the soldier had his memories and personality copied to be uploaded into a Na’vi body in the event of his death. As a result, he’s a clone of the deceased villain bent on revenge against Jake for betraying Earth in the first movie.
Sigourney Weaver is also back for the Avatar sequels, having played the now-deceased Dr Grace Augustine in the first movie. This time around she’s portraying a teenage daughter of Jake and Neytiri called Kiri via the magic of motion capture.
Now Avatar: The Way of Water focuses on Pandora’s aquatic life and seafaring tribe the Metkayina, but just what are the sequels about and when do they release?
Disney are planning on releasing an Avatar sequel once every two years, just as they did with the most recent Star Wars films. Avatar 3 is set for release on December 20, 2024, followed by Avatar 4 on December 18, 2026 and Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.
Cameron has even admitted in recent interviews that he has plans, “should the world demand them”, for Avatar 6 and 7. Although he’s not sure if he’ll helm anymore beyond Avatar 3. Incredibly, filming on the latter – which took place simultaneously with The Way of Water – was completed back in late December 2020.
Meanwhile, a third of Avatar 4 has already been filmed to account for a six-year time jump in the first act and the ageing of the child actors. Despite this, the release of the fourth and fifth films is dependent on the success of their predecessors.
Cameron told GQ that Avatar 2 needs to be the third or fourth highest-grossing movie in history just to break even. That would be at least $2 billion, which presumably also accounts for work on the third and fourth films.
Whatever the case, the titles of Avatar 3, 4 and 5 were previously leaked by the BBC and give an idea of where the storyline will go.
The BBC previously reported having seen documentation with the titles Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa. This included The Way of Water before it was officially confirmed. Of course, the titles could be in flux but Avatar 3 was at one point rumoured to be exploring more of the Alpha Centauri system, where Pandora is located.
According to Screen Rant, The Seed Bearer could indicate a plot to do with the Na’vi rebuilding the Tree of Souls that was almost destroyed by Quaritch in the first movie. Perhaps there will be a search for a specific seed for its rebirth.
Avatar 4’s rumoured title of The Tulkun Rider references the large whale-like creatives in Pandora’s oceans that feature in The Way of Water. Speaking with Collider, Cameron recently teased: “When I turned in the script for 4, the studio executive, creative executive over the films wrote me an email that said, ‘Holy f**k.’ And I said, ‘Well, where are the notes?’ And she said, ‘Those are the notes.’ Because it kind of goes nuts in a good way, right?”
As for Avatar 5: The Quest for Eywa, we know that the latter is the name of Pandora’s goddess, who is described by Jake in the first movie as being “made up of all living things”. Perhaps there’s even a physical manifestation of this character who will appear? Hopefully, Cameron will spill more details after Avatar 2 has released later this week.