In a completely unpredictable twist, the first follow-up to Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster—a film that has been furiously pushed later and later practically since the day it was greenlit—will definitely not be hitting theaters in 2018. Cameron put the kibosh on that date in a new interview with the Toronto Star, saying flat-out that releasing the film next year is “not happening.” As Cameroon Says, “We haven’t announced a firm release date. . . . 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. It’s an epic undertaking. It’s not unlike building the Three Gorges dam. (Laughs) So I know where I’m going to be for the next eight years of my life. It’s not an unreasonable time frame if you think about it. It took us four-and-a-half years to make one movie and now we’re making four. We’re full tilt boogie right now. This is my day job and pretty soon we’ll be 24/7. We’re pretty well designed on all our creatures and sets. It’s pretty exciting stuff. I wish I could share with the world. But we have to preserve a certain amount of showmanship and we’re going to draw that curtain when the time is right.”
Cameron has long said that he plans to work on all of his planned Avatar sequels concurrently, and that ambition explains why the process is taking so excruciatingly long. The original film was released in 2009, and the subsequent sequels were initially scheduled for 2014 and 2015. However, the scripts for the upcoming films weren’t finished until 2014, so the release dates were pushed back another two years—before this latest delay notice.