Moviegoers will have to wait a little longer to return to Pandora. James Cameron told the Associated Press this week that he has pushed back production on the Avatar sequels and the next chapter won't hit theatres until Christmas, 2017. That's a year later than had been planned.
Cameron's words confirm what had been rumoured for months - that the director had yet to deliver a shooting script to 20th Century Fox, delaying budgeting and production work on the vastly ambitious project. Part of the issue is that Cameron is shooting his planned trilogy simultaneously.
"We're not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that," Cameron told the Associated Press. "And parallel with that, we're doing all the design. So we've designed all the creatures and the environments."
The delay does deprive Fox of one of its signature projects at one of the most popular times for moviegoing.
A spokesman for the studio did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but during a lengthy profile of Twentieth Century Fox chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos last summer, the studio chief told Variety that he expected the films to be costly, but worthwhile.
"We know it's going to be a long journey," said Gianopulos. "We know it's not going to be cheap. We know it's not going to be without new discoveries and new challenges in the process of producing something that is so beyond the normal form of filmmaking and technology, but what could be more exciting than that."
Cameron also spoke to Variety for that article, providing some insight into what the future holds for the films. "There's nothing I need to say as an artist about the state of the world and human affairs that I can't do through the lens of the Avatar universe," he said.
"We've had a couple of years to think through the story arc of the next three films, and every day that goes by, I believe in the stories I'm telling more and more. We're not coming out of the block fast to capitalise on the last film."
Avatar remains the biggest box office hit in history, with a box office gross of US$2.8 bil (S$3.5 bil).