Has Pandora stuck in the public consciousness enough to warrant what must surely be a huge expense? More crucially, have they remained in the public awareness enough that we the audience will get our money’s worth? Or are we all Marvel and Star Wars all the time now?
Here’s a look at how the original Avatar did, how much more Avatar we’re going to get, and how likely it is that the Na’vi will be just as triumphant as they were 10 years ago.
What is James Cameron known for outside of ‘Avatar’?
No one disputes that writer-director James Cameron has beaten the odds time and again. His third movie was a sequel, Aliens, and many people consider that one of the best in the series, if not Cameron’s best film period. He also scored very big with Terminator 2, the 1991 sequel to the movie that was his breakout hit in 1984.
Indeed, the only one of his films after The Terminator that wasn’t a major financial success was 1989’s The Abyss, which more or less broke even. Yet the film is still well-regarded today for its groundbreaking effects and for succeeding artistically despite an infamously grueling underwater shoot that imperiled cast and crew.
Cameron habitually flirts with danger on his movies. Titanic was a notoriously difficult production, with the crew once being drugged by PCP. Story after story delighted in schadenfreude, predicting that the movie would be a massive failure along the lines of Heaven’s Gate, which bankrupted its studio, United Artists, and forever tainted the career of director Michael Cimino, who had won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter.
Then Titanic was released. Its opening wasn’t huge, but it developed legs for months on end, as the movie caught on and people returned to it over and over again. Before anyone knew it, the movie had become the most financially successful of all time, grossing $2.1 billion worldwide and winning 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. Cameron had the last laugh, all the way to the bank.
How popular is ‘Avatar’?
After that, Cameron took a long break from directing. When he returned with Avatar, the negative voices again sounded the alarm: “What in the world is this with the blue aliens? Cameron is crazy. This will never be a hit. He got lucky last time, he can’t get lucky again.”
He did, though. Cameron broke his own record with Avatar becoming the new king of the world. It didn’t get as much Oscar glory, losing to The Hurt Locker, directed by Cameron’s ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, but Avatar did start the 3D comeback we’re still living with today. Cameron was so enthralled he planned several sequels.
When will ‘Avatar’ sequels release?
We’re getting the second movie on December 17, 2021; Avatar 3 on December 22, 2023; Avatar 4 on December 19, 2025; and Avatar 5 on December 17, 2027. At least, that’s the plan for now, if the schedule doesn’t change for the fourth or fifth time.
The naysayers are doubting again, and they may have a point. One sequel, maybe, but four seems foolhardy, especially with an 11-year gap between the first and second movies. Some people are wondering if the original was really that good. Were we all just blinded by 3D razzle-dazzle when the movie was nothing more than an intergalactic Dances with Wolves? Or Ferngully writ large?
A lot of people on Reddit seem to think so. One Reddit user wrote “It’s a beautiful movie but the plot is mediocre at best. The story is pretty forgettable and most people have not rewatched it after seeing it in theaters. I was shocked to hear that there’s like 5 movies currently in the making with this series.” Several users agreed.
Cinemablend also noted: “It hasn’t had much of a lasting impression. It has a major presence at Disney Animal Kingdom, but Avatar hasn’t remained in the cultural zeitgeist like other films.”
All that said, Cameron has defied the odds on almost every movie he’s made, and he’s emerged victorious every time. But he does have chinks in his armor with his criticisms of Wonder Woman, and his complaints that there are too many superhero movies. He would think that, with Avengers: Endgame rapidly closing in Avatar’s records.
Everybody fails sometimes. But another Reddit user asserted “Never bet against James Cameron.”