James Cameron knows that creating Avatar sequels is no easy task.
The famed director, 66, appeared virtually on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he spoke about the pressure of helming the highly-anticipated follow-up films to the epic 2009 sci-fi blockbuster, which currently ranks as the highest-grossing film of all time.
"I cry. I just sit here at my desk and cry all day long because there's no way," joked Cameron. "It's just too much pressure, dude."
Cameron, who is directing Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, both of which have already wrapped filming, added that he hopes the films will make fans happy.
"We just try to be true to what people loved about the first film and take it into whole new areas," he explained. "A lot of our scenes are in the ocean so I'm combining things that I love like making Avatar and going into the ocean, I love all that stuff."
Andrew Lipovsky/NBC James Cameron on Jimmy Fallon
Disney Zoe Saldana in Avatar
Cameron also spoke about the future of blockbuster films profiting in theaters when Fallon addressed how Avatar was overtaken by Avengers: Endgame as the highest-grossing film in 2019 — only for Avatar to reclaim the coveted top spot from the Marvel film after it was re-released in China this year.
"The truth is what we really need to focus on is getting back to theaters and hopefully we can still have films like that, like Endgame and Avatar, the big Marvel movies and all that that are able to make $1 billion or $2 billion," said Cameron. "Let's pray that the theaters are there after this pandemic and the shift toward streaming — not that I have anything against streaming, there's great writing and great shows."
"But let's remember that [going to] movie theaters is a sacred experience for all of us and let's get back out there when it's safe to do so," he added.
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Although production on the Avatar sequels shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19, Cameron and crew were able to return to New Zealand in June to continue filming.
The delay meant that all the sequels, which are being filmed consecutively and will feature returning stars Zoë Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, plus newbie Kate Winslet, saw their release dates pushed back by Disney. However, Cameron shared last September that he's been making some great progress.
"We're very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago," he added, as he praised the way New Zealand handled the pandemic. "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."
Disney has now set Avatar 2's release date for December 16, 2022 and Avatar 3 for December 20, 2024. The fourth and fifth movies will hit theaters in 2026 and 2028.