James Cameron says the 'Avatar' franchise could be "done in three months" if the sequel isn't a success.
The 68-year-old director's Avatar: The Way of Water, the hotly-anticipated follow up to 2009's Avatar, is due to drop next month, but Cameron admits he wonders how many people will "give a s***" about the movie now.
He said: "The market could be telling us we're done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning, 'okay, let's complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly', if it's just not profitable.
"We're in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even.
"It's the one-two punch - the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we'll remind people what going to the theatre is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is, 'How many people give a s*** now?' "
Cameron admits the franchise has been "hideously expensive" to make - with an expected budget of around US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) for the four sequels - but he insists the upcoming film will deliver "three hours of a pretty much insane experience".
He added to Total Film magazine: "There are a couple of things that I took out [of The Way Of Water] that I want to shoehorn into movie three, hopefully.
"These are hideously expensive movies. It was a sketchy business case before the pandemic to make a movie that cost this much.
"At this point, we just have to play it out to see what happens. But what I know right now is: we're delivering three hours of a pretty much insane experience."
In September 2022, Cameron admitted he was concerned that Avatar: The Way of Water wouldn't be relevant over a decade after the original film was released.
He said: "I was a little concerned that I had stretched the tether too far, in our fast-paced, modern world, with Avatar 2 coming in 12 years later.
"Right until we dropped the teaser trailer, and we got 148 million views in 24 hours. There's that scarce seen but wondered at principle, which is, 'Wow, we haven't seen that in a long time, but I remember how cool it was back then.' Does that play in our favour? I don't know.
"I guess we're going to find out."
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