'Avatar' 4 and 5 Will Be Cancelled if 2 and 3 Don't Make Money

Monday, 27 November 2017 - 6:08PM
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Monday, 27 November 2017 - 6:08PM
'Avatar' 4 and 5 Will Be Cancelled if 2 and 3 Don't Make Money
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20th Century Fox
Good news, everyone: it looks like we may not have to sit through four pointless Avatar sequels after all. While director James Cameron is currently hoping to create four entire sequels for his 2009 film, he recently said he's less committed to it than he let on.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron—the man responsible for the first movie in the series, as well as the plans to try and turn it into the next Star Wars or MCU—has suggested that if the first couple of Avatar franchise-builders bomb, he's not going to keep throwing good money after bad. Said Cameron:

Opening quote
"Let's face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don't make enough money, there's not going to be a 4 and 5. They're fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they're fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, "Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year." Even though that all worked and everybody did."
Closing quote

So apparently James Cameron will cancel this whole affair if his Avatar money train doesn't make enough money? Good.

It has to be said that it's wonderfully refreshing to hear Cameron talk about his plans for the Avatar franchise for what they really are: a cash grab. This is the director behind the two most profitable movies of all time, looking to turn the lesser of those successes into end endless series of churned out, hastily produced sequels that nobody asked for.

What's strange is that the idea of the series turning sour didn't seem to occur to Cameron while in the early stages of production. The director has elected to work on these movies back to back, as much as possible, meaning that if Avatar 2 does flop, it'll be too late to halt production on later movies in the series without wasting a lot of money. Cameron is rumored to have budgeted a billion dollars for this whole endeavor, meaning that if things go south it could easily be the biggest commercial flop of all time.

If this series were a lengthy Lord of the Rings style epic, it would make sense to produce the episodes all in a row, but with the self-contained "encapsulated stories" that Cameron is promising, committing out of the gate to such a large franchise feels risky at best and foolhardy at worst.

One only has to take a cursory glance at the modern movie landscape to spot the corpses of over-ambitious franchises scattered all across the horizon. Recent years have seen Fantastic Four, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Mummy, and many other movies focus so hard on worldbuilding and sequel-baiting that they failed to actually engage an audience, and ended up dooming their respective franchises before the ball could properly get rolling.

In all of these cases, the films were built around existing popular intellectual properties, but it turned out that this wasn't enough to carry legitimately bad movies that clearly only existed to try and kick of an episodic movie series.

Then, there are the franchises that simply refuse to die, no matter how much people may want them to. Cameron's directing buddy Ridley Scott has given us a few too many Alien prequels by this point, and it's becoming more and more apparent that the only reason the Xenomorphs are appearing in these films is because Scott knows that this is a good way to guarantee a solid paycheck.

It might be the case that James Cameron is going to do something truly spectacular with his Avatar sequels. He might have a genius plan for these future films that totally justify shooting them all in a big block and eeking them out over the next few years. Based on the current state of the movie industry, though, and Cameron's own admission that these films are really only being made for the sake of pumping audiences for loose change, it's difficult to see what he might be hoping to achieve.

If he does have a plan, it'll have to be truly spectacular in order to actually grab any positive attention. For the majority of science fiction fans, the idea of sitting through four sequels to an expensive but entirely forgettable sci-fi movie feels like a complete waste of time.
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