James Cameron Says ‘Avatar 3’ Is in a ‘Very Hectic Two Years of Post-Production Right Now,’ Plans to Only Shoot Films in New Zealand ‘Indefinitely’

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James Cameron described post-production on “Avatar 3” as “hectic” during a recent New Zealand press conference moderated by 1News chief correspondent John Campbell. Cameron used the discussion to celebrate New Zealand as his main production hub, announcing his plan to make movies there “indefinitely” and revealing that he will finally become a New Zealand citizen in 2024. Cameron has been working in New Zealand since 2005, when the first “Avatar” movie started development.

“We’re into a very hectic two years of post-production right now,” Cameron confirmed when asked about the third “Avatar” movie. “So it will be Christmas of 2025.”

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Disney announced in June that Cameron’s three upcoming “Avatar” sequels were being pushed back on the release calendar yet again, extending the franchise into 2031. The studio, which acquired the franchise after its merger with Fox, had originally planned to release Cameron’s additional “Avatar” sequels two years apart from one another, with the third movie arriving in 2024. But now “Avatar 3” is opening on Dec. 19, 2025; “Avatar 4” on Dec. 21, 2029; and “Avatar 5” on Dec. 19, 2031. Based on this timeline, the final “Avatar” movie will premiere 22 years after the original 2009 blockbuster.

The second “Avatar” movie, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” opened in theaters in December 2022, 13 years after the original movie broke box office records to become the highest-grossing movie of all time with $2.9 billion (unadjusted for inflation). While some doubted “The Way of Water” would be a hit, Cameron silenced the naysayers as the sequel generated $2.3 billion in worldwide ticket sales to become the third-highest grosser in movie history.

“Great! I’m gonna be 53 when the last ‘Avatar’ comes out,” franchise star Zoe Saldaña humorously posted on her Instagram alongside a shocked face emoji after the new release plan was announced. “I was 27 when I shot the very first ‘Avatar.’”

Saldaña’s co-star Sam Worthington, who stars as Jake Sully in the franchise, will be 55 years old when the final “Avatar” movie hits theaters. Cameron will be 77 years old.

Cameron has teased that “Avatar 3” will introduce a more antagonistic race of Na’vi. Franchise producer Jon Landau told Empire magazine earlier this year that group is the Ash People, described by the publication as “an aggressive, volcanic race” of Na’vi whose leader is Varang, played by “Game of Thrones” alum and Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter Oona Chaplin.

At the recent New Zealand press conference, Cameron promised that all the remaining “Avatar” movies (plus any other project he plans to helm) will shoot in the country.

“It brings so much into the economy here, it brings so much prestige to the country culturally, and it’s an opportunity for so many young people coming up to think of themselves as empowered on the world stage. We can do it here,” Cameron said about making New Zealand his permanent movie home.

Watch highlights from Cameron’s press conference in the video below, courtesy of New Zealand’s 1News.

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