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Avatar: why did Avatar 2 take so long?

Avatar: The Way of Water will be releasing well over a decade after the first movie. So, what's the reason for Avatar 2's huge delay?

Avatar 2 trailer - still showing Na'vi underwater

Why did Avatar 2 take so long? Whether you were a huge fan or not, everyone can agree that the 2009 science fiction movie Avatar was, and arguably still is, an enormous global phenomenon.

The movie was set in the not-too-distant future and followed the Marine Jake Sully as he landed on the alien planet Pandora. Over the course of the action movie, Sully came to learn about the inhabitants of the planet, the Na’vi, and got to know their culture. The 2000s movie ended with Sully remaining on Pandor with the Na’vi (having taken the form of the tall blue aliens thanks to some nifty technology) after defending the planet from exploitation and assault by the Marines.

Avatar’s success was hugely influenced by its use of visual effects, and the motion-capture performances, alongside the ground-breakingly immersive CGI have barely aged at all. This, combined with the audience’s love for the world of Pandora, has left fans of the movie clamouring for a sequel to Avatar. That sequel, titled Avatar: The Way of Water, will be releasing in mid-December, 2022, 13 years after the first movie. That’s very exciting, but why did Avatar 2 take so long?

Avatar: why did Avatar 2 take so long?

The reason for the huge gap between Avatar and Avatar 2 is due to two major factors: developments in technology and a very long shooting period.

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Firstly, because Avatar: The Way of Water will heavily focus on the oceans of Pandora, and the creatures within it, James Cameron wanted to adapt the motion capture technology to be able to use it underwater. This required huge advancements in motion capture technology, and these took several years. Therefore, this demand from Cameron necessitated a significant delay to the start of filming.

Eventually, filming for the movie began in 2017 once the underwater motion capture technology was ready. The shoot lasted three years, because the movie was shot alongside Avatar 3, which added to the unusual length of the process. Then, after principal photography, the movie went into the post-production stage, where the visual effects were worked on.

So, those two big factors help to explain the lengthy delay between Avatar and its upcoming sequel. Luckily, fans who have been waiting over a decade, now only have to wait a little over a month before Avatar 2 finally releases, and takes us all back to Pandora.

For more escapism, check out our guide to the best fantasy movies.