Return to the World of Pandora This December [Part 1 of 2]

Courtesy of IMDB

13 years ago, filmmaker James Cameron took us to the 3D world of Pandora in his 2009 film Avatar. He pushed the limits of moviemaking technology using motion-capture for the blue humanoid species called the Navi, who play a main role in the film. The first significant use of this technology was with the creature Gollum in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy in the early 2000s. When Avatar hit theaters in December of 2009, many were skeptical about the film. It was released to huge acclaim, and went on to become the highest grossing film of all time! Grossing a whopping $2.743 billion dollars at the worldwide box office, it surpassed the previous highest grossing film of all time by exactly $900 million. Titanic (1997) grossed $1.843 billion at the box office (original 1997 release), which ironically was also directed by James Cameron. The film went on to win 3 Oscars, including best cinematography, and best visual effects. The film was also nominated for best picture.


Now, 13 years later in 2022, the climate is much different in the landscape of cinema. Avatar’s whole purpose was to inspire a new “3D” era, but it never took off. That could change in December, when the long awaited Avatar sequel will finally arrive in theaters, titled Avatar: The Way of Water. Writing of the story began all the way back in 2010 and took 5 years to complete because James Cameron is not just writing one Avatar sequel; he was writing 4 simultaneously. Avatar: The Way of Water is one of 4 sequels with Avatar 3 releasing in December 2024, Avatar 4  releasing in 2026, and Avatar 5 releasing in 2028. The Avatar franchise’s distributor 20th Century Studios, is gambling about a billion dollars excluding marketing for these four films. But will that gamble pay off? We will dive into that piece later. 

Courtesy of Avatar: The Way of Water Official Teaser Trailer


Once the scripts for the sequels were completed in 2015, work began on the production design which will be the tenant of Avatar: The Way of Water, and Avatar 3. As the first sequel’s title suggests, Avatar 2 and 3 are set in the oceans of Pandora. Due to this, the motion capture technology used in the first film would have to have some major modifications in order to be used completely underwater. For 2 years, James Cameron and the production team developed this impressive new technology before filming could begin on the Avatar sequels. Simultaneous production on Avatar 2 and 3 began in early 2017 and did not finish until September of 2020 on a budget of $250 million each. Avatar 2 has been in post-production since fall of 2020. 


For the filming of Avatar 2 and 3, actors had to learn underwater breathing techniques for the long amount of time spent filming underwater. Titanic Actor Kate Winslet broke Top Gun Actor Tom Cruise’s underwater filming  record for longest time without breathing. Winslet managed to be able to hold her breath for 7 minutes! This shows the amount of training and technique used for filming. Extensive underwater sets were created for filming, and actors had to learn diving techniques and swimming skills.


When the teaser trailer for the film dropped and pulled in a whopping 148.6 million views within the first 24 hours of being online, James Cameron saw that people still care about the wonderful world of Pandora. Upon the teaser’s release, critics responded and gave outstanding acclaim praising the film’s visuals. Films like Aqauaman and The Little Mermaid were not filmed with the technology that will be used in The Way of Water, and for that reason look much more fake and unrealistic. The water is real in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Courtesy of Avatar: The Way of Water Official Teaser Trailer

Most of the original cast is returning, including Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri. Giovanni Risbi returns as the RDA’s corporate mining administrator from the first film. Sigourney Weaver will be returning, but in a different role. Weaver portrayed Dr. Grace Augustine, head of the Avatar program in the first film. In Avatar: The Way of Water and all forthcoming sequels she will portray Kiri, a Na’vi teenager adopted by Jake and Neytiri. Several other original cast members will be returning from the first film.


Stephen Lang is returning to portray the main villain once again: Colonel Miles Quaritch, the head of the RDA mining operation’s security detail. Quaritch instigated the war against the Na’vi in the first film. Colonel Quaritch will not be a human in this film. He has become a RETCOM soldier (a DNA Clone).



In case you have yet to see the first film, Avatar is available for streaming on Disney+, and on Blu-Ray/DVD. Avatar: The Way of Water will follow Jake Sully and his wife Neytiri 13 years later. Jake and Neytiri now have a family. Together they have been exploring the vast oceanic world of Pandora, but they face a problem once again. The RDA is back to finish what they started 13 years ago, and this time they’re ready for a fight. The Na’vi must come together again to battle their old enemy. Jake and his family will face deep struggles and show what family is really about, the lengths Jake Sully will go for his family. Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters everywhere, in all formats, on December 16th 2022 with an epic runtime of 3 hours and 10 minutes…


Continue to Part 2 For Critical Analysis and Box Office Predictions