Avatar, James Cameron's late 2009 (and early 2010) blockbuster that spearheaded the (currently dwindling) popularity of 3D movies, will have three sequels. Why exactly that has come as a surprise revelation for some is unclear. Sigourney Weaver, who for quite a while has been scheduled to return for the Avatar sequels, had already mentioned that there would be three movies, filmed concurrently much like Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
Anyhow, James Cameron and Avatar distributor 20th Century Fox have announced that the three sequels will be released as follows: Avatar 2 (not to be confused with Avatar: The Last Airbender or Avatar: The Legend of Korra or online thumbnail avatars) will reach theaters in December 2016, a full seven years after the original. The second sequel (or third Avatar movie) will come out in December 2017 and the third sequel in December 2018. Irony of Ironies: if somewhere along the way Fox decides to release one or more Avatar sequels only in 2D format in North America. (Admittedly, that's not likely to happen even if 3D goes totally bust at other studios, which is also not that likely to happen as 3D movies continue to perform remarkably well internationally — the current bread and butter, or rather, dumplings and stroganoff — of megabudgeted Hollywood productions.)
'Avatar' sequels' screenwriters
At least for the time being, the Avatar sequels will be written by James Cameron himself, and collaborators Josh Friedman (of Steven Spielberg / Tom Cruise's 2005 War of the Worlds, the TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planets of the Apes, the upcoming Jurassic Park IV), and Shane Salerno (Oliver Stone's Savages, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Armageddon).
According to Deadline.com, production on Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4 begins sometime next year. James Cameron and his Lighthouse Entertainment partner Jon Landau is producing the sequels. Additionally, WETA Digital will return to provide the visual effects for the sequels.
The original Avatar cast features Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Sean Anthony Moran, Dileep Rao, Matt Gerald, Scott Lawrence, Jason Whyte, Sean Patrick Murphy, and James Patrick Pitt.
'Avatar' box office
If you believe that inflation exists only on Pandora, Avatar is the biggest box office hit since dinosaurs ruled the Earth. (Pre-Triassic box office reports are unavailable.) But once you realize that movie ticket prices usually go up every year (and that 3D surcharges inflate grosses in relation to actual ticket sales), Avatar's $760.5 million earned in the U.S. and Canada lands it at no. 14 (not considering 3D surcharges) on the inflation-adjusted chart, with about $794 million.
James Cameron's environmentally conscious sci-fi fantasy trails the following movies: Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, The Sound of Music, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Titanic, The Ten Commandments, Jaws, Doctor Zhivago, The Exorcist, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians, The Empire Strikes Back, and Ben-Hur (1959). (Admittedly, most of those movies earned extra moolah from rereleases.)
Now, in large part thanks to population growth, and economic and political developments that have led to the recent emergence of major international markets such as Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea, Avatar is quite possibly the biggest international box office hit ever. It's too bad that international figures for worldwide blockbusters such as Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur (both 1925 and 1959), The Ten Commandments, Doctor Zhivago, and The Sound of Music remain unavailable.
Sam Worthington as the Na'vi Jake in Avatar image: WETA / 20th Century Fox.