Here’s How Much Money James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Sequels Are Going to Cost
James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are heading into production, and the price tag on them will be monumental.
According to Deadline, the collective budget on the Avatar sequels is expected to surpass $1 billion, which would make it the largest production of its kind.
To be fair, though, that’s because Cameron is shooting four movies back-to-back here, which explains why he’s spending so much money. And if the production budget ends up being $1 billion, that would mean each movie costs about $250 million, which is not uncommon among large blockbusters. Avengers: Age of Ultron, for instance, cost $250 million.
But it’s still completely unprecedented for a studio to spend over $1 billion on a single production like this. No director has ever shot four movies back to back as Cameron is doing here; the closest comparison would be Peter Jackson shooting the three Lord of the Rings movies one after the other. But with The Lord of the Rings, the budget of the entire three-movie production was only $280 million, the equivalent of $403 million in 2017 dollars. So James Cameron’s Avatar tetralogy will cost over twice as much as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it will be the most expensive single film production of all time.
James Cameron has been talking about a sequel to Avatar since before the first movie even came out, but it’s been a long time in the making. The first sequel was originally planned for a December 2014 release date, but it was pushed back to 2015, then 2016, then 2017, then 2018, and finally 2020. Right now, the plan is to release Avatar 2 in 2020, Avatar 3 in 2021, Avatar 4 in 2024, and Avatar 5 in 2025. Finally, after eight years of discussions and constant delays, the film went into production this week in Manhattan Beach.
20th Century Fox must be at least a little nervous about this incredibly large endeavor, but James Cameron has impressed at the box office time and time again. Back in 1997, the buzz surrounding Titanic was that it was destined to be an expensive bomb, but it grossed $2.1 billion and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. The same buzz surrounded the first Avatar, which became the new highest-grossing movie of all time with a worldwide take of $2.7 billion. But whether Cameron can approach anything close to that success again for Avatar 2, and whether he can sustain the audience’s interest for four more movies set in this world, remains to be seen.