Just How Many ‘Avatar’ Movies Does James Cameron Have in Store, Exactly?
It's a billion dollar franchise, folks!
The release of Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 record-breaking hit film Avatar, is drawing closer and closer. The first reviews of the sequel are out, and critics are praising the emotional storytelling and action sequences.
This return to the fictional Pandora and its people, the Na’vi, comes a cool 13 years after our first encounter with the wondrous world of this moon more than four light years away from Earth. And to say that I’m fascinated with the Avatar phenomenon would be an understatement—it has incredible technology, vibrant world-building, and the highest revenue for a movie in the history of cinema, yet James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster definitely hasn’t had the cultural impact one might expect for a movie of this scale.
Still, Avatar: The Way of Water seems like a pretty solid step toward the franchise James Cameron wants to build. Now that we are just a few days away from its release, let’s recap what the Avatar franchise should look like.
How many Avatar movies are there?
Let’s start with the movies we do have, which is two. The first Avatar was released in 2009 and follows the pretty white savior-y story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who arrives on Pandora to drive the Avatar—genetically engineered bodies that look like Na’vi but are connected mentally to their human drivers—that was meant for his deceased twin brother.
Once on Pandora, he ends up gaining the trust of the Omaticaya, the Na’vi clan closest to the humans’ base. Jake is taught how to live like a Na’vi by Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri, with whom he ends up falling in love. Ultimately, Jake will decide to switch sides and fight alongside the Na’vi to free their land from the humans.
Then there’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which we will all be able to watch very, very soon. From what we have been able to gather from the various teasers and trailers, humans have returned to Pandora—the moon’s natural resources seemingly too rich of a prize to abandon altogether. Jake Sully and Neytiri, now leading the Omaticaya and raising their family, will have to take up their weapons again, this time with the help of the Metkayina clan, who live by the ocean reef (and are probably the reason behind the movie’s title).
Related: Who Is the Cast in Avatar 2: The Way of Water? on The Escapist
How many Avatar movies will there be?
The Avatar franchise has many more movies planned than the two that have been produced so far—a very expensive undertaking with a collective budget floating around the $1 billion mark. There are three movies that have already been planned, which would make the franchise a five-movie affair.
Avatar 3, which was filmed around the same time as Avatar: The Way of Water, is planned for release in December 2024. Avatar 4 is scheduled for December 2026, with principal photography already underway. Avatar 5 is in pre-production, aiming for a release in December 2028.
James Cameron, however, also stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he would be down for an Avatar 6 and an Avatar 7, even though that would require shifting the mantle of director to someone a little younger. “Obviously, I’m not going to be able to make Avatar movies indefinitely, the amount of energy required,” he said. “I would have to train somebody how to do this”.
(featured image: 20th Century Studios)
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