How Avatar's Box Office Record Negatively Affects Cameron's Sequel

James Cameron has opened up about how Avatar's box office record negatively impacted his sci-fi sequel, and how he's getting around it to keep filming.

"Avatar" director James Cameron says the first film's box-office success isn't why he's writing the sequel. The first sequel to the 2009 blockbuster, Avatar: The Way of Water, finally hit theaters earlier this month and has grossed more than $1 billion. More than a decade after the first film, expectations are high for this ambitious sci-fi flick, not least because it's tasked with setting up three other sequels to follow. Since Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all time, some have speculated that Cameron's sequel plans are aimed at capitalizing on the massive success of the first film in the franchise.

Speaking with The Wrap, Cameron made it clear that was not the case, describing Avatar's record-breaking box office as "almost a deterrent" to returning to the franchise. Even before Avatar hit theaters, Cameron said in 2006 that he wanted to make multiple sequels based on the film's popularity, officially announcing plans for two sequels a year after Avatar was released in 2010 , despite the delay resulting in more than a decade between the Avatar films. While Avatar's "extraordinary financial success" created opportunities for many For the sequel film, Cameron said he was motivated to return to the franchise because of the "great team of artists and these great casts" attached to it, rather than the possibility of creating another historic success. Check out what the director had to say below:

The reason to come back wasn’t the extraordinary financial success of the first film. In fact, that’s almost a disincentive. The incentive to do it is that we had this great team of artists and this great cast of actors, and everybody trusted everybody.​​​

Why The Avatar Sequels Are Relevant Now

While the incredible financial success and widespread popularity of Avatar is why Cameron can now build the franchise, there is pressure on the sequel to match the first film's box office very big. Plus, expectations for sequels over the past decade have been a challenge, as both factors would have distracted from the actual movie itself, something Cameron clearly wanted to avoid. Even with Avatar: Way of Water so long after the first film, and with the pressure on to lay enough groundwork to support three more films, 2022 is the perfect time for a sequel.

Themes of environmentalism and conservation in Avatar are more relevant than ever in 2022, and so are the stories told in the sequel, as Earth's natural resources are depleted, environments are harsher, and Earth's inhabitants Hoping to make a home on a new planet environment. On the demand side, "Avatar: The Way of Water" comes out just after the pandemic took a massive toll on movie theaters, driving up attendance during the holiday slump and providing the industry with much-needed revenue. With many films on hold or still facing release delays due to the pandemic, Avatar: Way of Water offers an amazing and immersive cinematic experience for audiences eager to get away.

Trying to build an Avatar franchise would have been a difficult feat in 2009 when Marvel Studios was creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which dominated the cinematic landscape shortly after 2009, and would have provided Came Long's sci-fi franchise creates competition. While the MCU is still going strong, some viewers are starting to feel Marvel fatigue, which could lead fans of the franchise to appreciate a slower-paced but still action-oriented Avatar sequel even more. Franchise storytelling has also become extremely common in recent years, making the Avatar sequels come at a time when audiences are eager to return to a familiar world.

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