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James Cameron’s oft-delayed Avatar sequels are finally heading into production. On Saturday, a photo of Cameron, producer Jon Landau, and their production team appeared on the Avatar Facebook page. “Great to be working with the best team in the business!” the caption read. “Avatar takes flight as we begin concurrent production on four sequels. The journey continues December 18, 2020, December 17, 2021, December 20, 2024 and December 19, 2025!”

Fox has pushed back the release date of the first sequel to the 2009 blockbuster multiple times, as the complexity of writing four scripts and designing creatures and sets for four technologically ambitious movies at once slowed down their plans. As a filmmaker, Cameron likes to take his time—he took 12 years between Titanic and Avatar and he pushed back the release date of Titanic multiple times. Seeing the Facebook photo reminded me of a story Cameron told me about the Titanic delays when I was reporting my book about him, The Futurist. After then News Corp president Peter Chernin bought the director six more months in the editing room in 1997, Cameron ran into Rupert Murdoch at the studio. “I guess I’m not your favorite person,” Cameron told me he said to Murdoch. “But the movie is going to be good,” he promised. “It had better be a bit better than good,” Murdoch told him.

With not one but four Titanic-size movies on the line, it’s easy to imagine current Fox chief Stacey Snider and the Murdoch family feeling much the same now. These movies better be better than good.


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