James Cameron once hoped to have Avatar 2 playing in theaters by 2014, but the sequel has since seen its release date delayed a half-dozen times. There are few directors who like to push the boundaries of moviemaking technology the way Cameron does. The filmmaker has often spent years doing research and fine-tuning the tools he needs to bring his blockbuster visions to life, which explains why he’s only directed eight non-documentary features over the course of a career spanning forty years. Of course, when you’re the director of box office-breaking hits like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Titanic, and Avatar people come to expect big things from you.

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Hoping to deliver on those expectations, Cameron has spent the last decade working on what started out as a pair of sequels to his record-setting 2009 sci-fi tentpole Avatar, but has since expanded into a four-part followup. In doing so, the release dates for Avatar 2 through 5 have changed numerous times, both before and after Cameron finally started principal photography in September 2017. Most recently, back in June, the movies resumed shooting on their sets in New Zealand after being put on hold for a few months (along with every other in-progress film and TV production) following the global COVID-19 lockdowns in March.

While announcing their new movie slate for 2020 and 2021 this week (in direct response to the ongoing pandemic), Disney subsequently confirmed it would be postponing Avatar 2 and its sequels yet again, marking the sixth time that’s happened. Here’s a breakdown of every delay so far, going back to when Cameron had his eye on getting Avatar 2 into theaters as early as 2014.

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Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2016

In October 2010 (some ten months after the first Avatar opened in theaters), Cameron announced his intention to direct Avatar 2 and 3 back to back starting in late 2011, with the goal of having them ready to open in theaters by December 2014 and December 2015. Over the year that followed, Cameron immersed himself in writing the films and doing extensive research in order to help him design Pandora’s aquatic ecosystems and oceans (which will figure prominently into Avatar 2). However, by the time 2012 rolled around, production on Avatar 2 had yet to begin and Cameron was talking about the idea of making three sequels concurrently instead. Sure enough, Avatar 4 was formally announced in 2013 and Avatar 2 was postponed to December 2016 (with the plan being to release Avatar 3 and 4 in December 2017 and December 2018).

Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2017

Two years later, in 2015, Avatar 2 was once again pushed back, this time to December 2017 (with its sequels being similarly delayed a year). Cameron attributed this to the challenging process of crafting a three-movie arc at the time, saying “There’s a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don’t get when you’re making a stand-alone film.” As a result, the start of production was subsequently rescheduled for Spring 2016.

Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2018

Speaking at CinemaCon 2016, which took place around the same time Avatar 2 had previously been expected to begin shooting, Cameron revealed he was now working on no less than four Avatar sequels, teasing “The environments, new cultures – whatever it takes to bring it to life. From what I’m seeing of the art on the wall… in pure imagination is just beyond the first film.” Because of this, he claimed Avatar 2 would have to be delayed yet again and hit theaters in late December 2018, with the remaining sequels being spaced out for release in December 2020, December 2022, and December 2023.

Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2020

Near the beginning of 2017, Cameron told The StarAvatar 2 wouldn’t be able to make its 2018 release date, explaining “What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases. So we’re not making Avatar 2. We’re making Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5.” A few months later, in April 2017, Fox announced new – and, for the time time, specific – release dates for all four Avatar sequels, setting Avatar 2 to premiere on December 18, 2020, followed by Avatar 3 on December 17, 2021, Avatar 4 on December 20, 2024, and Avatar 5 on December 19, 2025.

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Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2021

Two months after Disney finalized its purchase of Fox’s movie and TV assets in March 2019, the studio announced its plan to alternate between releasing an Avatar sequel and a new Star Wars movie annually every December, in order to ensure the two sci-fi juggernauts wouldn’t damage one another at the box office. Because of this, Avatar 2 was shifted back another year to December 17, 2021, with Avatar 3 to follow in December 2023, Avatar 4 in December 2025, and Avatar 5 in December 2027.

Avatar 2 is Delayed to 2022

Despite Cameron’s confidence in his team’s ability to hit a December 2021 deadline for Avatar 2 (even after the halt in live-action production in the spring), the ongoing pandemic has forced the House of Moue to overhaul its release slate for the next two years – something that’s had a domino effect on Avatar 2, which has now been rescheduled to reach theaters on December 16, 2022. In keeping with Disney’s plans to alternate yearly between Star Wars movies and the Avatar sequels from there, Avatar 3 will subsequently arrive on December 20, 2024, followed by Avatar 4 on December 18, 2026, and finally Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.

Key Release Dates
  • Avatar 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
  • Avatar 3 (2024)Release date: Dec 20, 2024
  • Avatar 4 (2026)Release date: Dec 18, 2026
  • Avatar 5 (2028)Release date: Dec 22, 2028
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