The amount of time that’s gone into the Avatar films could make it hard for people to get into them, but the nature of the sequels can alleviate that.
The proposed plan for the upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar 3, 4, and 5 allows for James Cameron to avoid some big problems with the overall franchise. The Avatar franchise has had a variety of problems since the very beginning, and the fact that there are supposed to be four films following the original could have served to exacerbate those problems. The structure of the sequel films, however, can help prevent a lot of those issues from arising.
One problem that’s existed within the Avatar franchise has been the amount of investment that the franchise expects from the audience. After multiple delays, Avatar: The Way of Water is set to be released on December 16, 2022, thirteen years after the original Avatar came out. It’s already asking a lot of people to still be excited for the sequel after all that time, but add in how there are supposed to be another three films to follow The Way of Water, all of which could also be subjected to delays, and that means that people are being expected to engage in the series for about twenty years. Even if The Way of Water and the films to follow it end up being good, that still reads as an unreasonable level of investment being asked of people for a franchise that only has one film to its name at this point.
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Fortunately, the way that the upcoming Avatar sequels story will be produced can avoid this problem entirely. During Disney’s panel at CinemaCon 2022, producer Jon Landau revealed that while each of the new Avatar films will center around Jake and Neytiri’s family, they’ll also be standalone stories that won’t directly feed into one another. This means that there’s far less investment being expected of people than was previously implied because while the Avatar films will all be part of the same saga, someone doesn’t necessarily have to watch every film to understand what’s happening, as they’ll all be their own individual stories.
The Avatar films being framed like this is probably the best move for the franchise going forward. Even if future films aren’t subjected to delays like The Way of Water was, the franchise would still be running for a long enough time that people could easily lose interest in it, but if every film is a standalone story, then there’s less pressure on the part of the audience to keep up with everything because it should be easy enough to jump in at any point. Not only that, but if the Avatar franchise ends up abruptly coming to a close for some reason, then there likely won’t be any major unresolved plot threads, so any film could theoretically work as a conclusion for the series and satisfy someone, regardless of their level of investment.
The lengthy amount of time that it’s taken the Avatar franchise to progress has been one of the biggest obstacles working against it, but the structure of the sequels works to sidestep the issue. Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar 3, 4, and 5 are a smaller risk coming as standalone stories, and time shouldn’t be as much of a problem because someone can jump into the series at any point without feeling pressured to keep up to date with everything. Thanks to that, the only thing that really needs to be worried about is whether or not the films will be any good.
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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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