James Cameron provided his Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger with an update on the Avatar sequels during a recent chat for the 2020 Austrian World Summit. Speaking by video conference from New Zealand, Cameron said, “We’re 100% complete on Avatar 2 and sort of 95% complete on Avatar 3.” He added that the team is currently working on shooting the remainder of the live action. (Check out the video below.)
Cameron explained that the production lost “about four and a half months” owing to COVID-19, which “hit us like it hit everybody, it hit us hard.” Avatar 2’s release, as previously announced, “rolled around a full year” because of the pandemic lockdowns, Cameron added. In July, Disney moved all the Avatar sequels, setting Avatar 2 on December 16, 2022 and Avatar 3 on December 20, 2024. The fourth and fifth pictures are due in 2026 and 2028.
Cameron praised New Zealand’s management of the coronavirus outbreak, saying, “We’re very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago. We made the first film here in New Zealand and it turns out to be ranking first or second best country in the world for its COVID response.” In June, New Zealand announced it was virus free, though an August outbreak in Auckland forced a new alert level that has since been downgraded.
Cameron and producer Jon Landau traveled back to New Zealand in June to return to work after production was halted by the virus in March. Special dispensation to enter the country was also given to 55 crew members working on the sequels
To Schwarzenegger, he said, “We’re able to operate. We’re able to shoot and have a more or less normal life here. We were very fortunate, so I don’t see any roadblocks to us getting the picture finished, getting both pictures finished.”
Other than that, Cameron wouldn’t be led on details. “I can’t tell you anything about the story,” he told Schwarzenegger. “I believe in the mystery and the great reveal.”
Here’s the full video of their chat — which focuses widely on the environment. Avatar comes up at around the 9:30 mark.