‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Director James Cameron Calls Out Critics of Long Runtime and Delay Between Movies

Avatar director James Cameron seems to love sci fi movies. In addition to creating the Avatar franchise, he directed the first two Terminator films, Aliens, and The Abyss in a span of seven years. The second Avatar film, which hits theaters in December 2022, could see Canadian filmmaker come one step closer to passing the baton to other Avatar directors, but not before Cameron takes shots at trolls complaining about the runtime of The Way of Water and the wait between movies.

James Cameron speaks at Zoe Saldana's 2018 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. Cameron called out those who criticize 'Avatar: The Way of Water' runtime and gap between sequels.
James Cameron | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ ends a long wait for fans

Avatar broke the bank soon after it hit theaters in 2009, surpassing $77 million its opening weekend, per Box Office Mojo. It became the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.84 billion worldwide.

Cameron and 20th Century Fox quickly agreed to make sequels, but the fans who made the first movie a smash had to wait. And wait, and wait. Finally, 13 years later, The Way of Water brings viewers back to Pandora and the world of Avatar. The sequel will up the ante in terms of special effects with new underwater motion-capture technology. 

Sam Worthington (Jake) and Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), who wept after watching just 20 minutes of the sequel, return to star. Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Augustine) and Stephen Lang (Miles Quaritch) also reprise their roles. The Way of Water promises to be another of Cameron’s sci fi epics. It also promises an epic run time, and Cameron has a pointed message for anyone complaining about it. 

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James Cameron calls out critics of his planned long runtime for ‘The Way of Water’

Cameron doesn’t necessarily go out of his way to make movies with long runtimes, but it happens anyway. 

Aside from his directorial debut, the B-movie Piranha II: The Spawning, and the first Terminator, all of Cameron’s films have runtimes of 2 hours, 17 minutes, or more, per IMDb. Titanic lasted 3 hours, 14 minutes, and it’s the third-highest-grossing movie of all time at $2.2 billion. It also delivered three Academy Awards for Cameron. 

The Way of Water could clock in at nearly three hours, but Cameron has no time for complaints, as the director told Empire:

“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours. I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie’ … It’s like, give me a f——- break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row.”

James Cameron calls out people who criticize Avatar: The Way of Water runtime

Cameron might have a point. Were there complaints about a three-hour runtime for Avengers: Endgame? Did Gone With the Wind’s nearly four-hour length impact its status as a classic? If the director needs three hours to tell his story, then moviegoers should afford him that opportunity.

And if you want to stay out of Cameron’s crosshairs, then also avoid complaining about the 13-year wait between Avatar movies.

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Cameron preemptively calls out trolls complaining about the wait between ‘Avatar’ movies

Cameron anticipates reviews for The Way of Water skewering the movie’s runtime. He also expects critics to weigh in on the long gap between Avatar films, and he has a response ready for them, too.

“The trolls will have it that nobody gives a s— and they can’t remember the characters’ names or one damn thing that happened in the movie,” Cameron told Empire. “Then they see the movie again and go, ‘Oh, OK, excuse me, let me just shut the f— up right now.’ So I’m not worried about that.”

Some wonder if people really want more Avatar movies, and not just one but four more sequels through 2028. Judging by the way Cameron called out critics of the long runtime and the wait between movies, he probably doesn’t care.

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