Though it had no firm official release date, James Cameron’s sequel to Avatar was expected to arrive sometime in the holiday season at the end of 2017. It has now been revealed that the film will not make that date and will therefore arrive in theaters sometime in 2018, followed by the two additional sequels they plan to film back to back with it
In a normal world that would be the end of the news but this is Avatar and therefore a magnet for discussion and debate. On the heels of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens destroying Avatar‘s box office record there has been a tremendous amount of vitriol and celebration that the world of Pandora had finally been given its comeuppance.
Avatar is the Underdog?
There’s another popular trend right now about how Avatar made its money and then disappeared from the public consciousness, having left no mark. It’s yet another example of short term memory and a pack mentality rising up against a popular product. There was plenty of negativity towards James Cameron’s familiar but jaw-droppingly ambitious and effective movie upon its release but there’s a certain fervor being raised in recent years. What seems lost in the shuffle is the fact that Avatar wasn’t heavily marketed after it had done its business at the box office. The market wasn’t saturated with as much periphery as a project like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or The Lord of the Rings would be. It is wholly the product of one man, and it happens to be a man who has his fingers in a lot of baskets both on the cinematic side as well as in technology and science and as a producer on other films. Anyone who doubts James Cameron’s ability to carry something to the finish line hasn’t been paying attention.
So the spin on the release date bump is that Avatar 2 is running away from Star Wars: Episode VIII. Because everyone seems to be trying to create a war that doesn’t exist between the two popular franchises. To think that James Cameron would be afraid of Star Wars makes for a sensational headline but this is the man who endured a year of doom and gloom media coverage for Titanic until it came out and shut everyone up. And then he created an intellectual property no one expected with Avatar and outdid himself again. It’s astounding that more people don’t praise the dedication present in a man who has either created or contributed to three of the biggest franchises in film history.
The reality is that there are so many moving parts to the Avatar films that they are simply behind schedule. They haven’t even begun filming yet. And that’s without a development machine in place as Disney has, which has been able to expedite their coveted properties. Fox has made a point to not set a release date and know that the films will arrive when they’re ready. James Cameron has earned the right to be meticulous and many people have gotten rich off of his properties. He’s also had quite a few legal concerns to address.
We just found out that Episode VIII would be moving to December of 2017. It’s fortuitous for both films in actuality. For fans it just means we have to be patient because there aren’t a lot of examples of films that were rushed that benefited from it. It’s just the nature of the industry, not an A-list filmmaker scurrying away from a threat. If anything, James Cameron’s the kind of person who would gladly take all aggressors.
The takeaway is this. You don’t have to like Avatar but it’s good to at least be educated about the reality of the film industry rather than trying to distill big business down to a playground brawl.