James Cameron is making great progress on the Avatar sequels.
After having to shut down production in March due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the director returned to New Zealand in June to continue filming after the country swiftly contained a breakout of the virus.
While Disney later announced the sequels — which are being filmed consecutively — will all be pushed back a year, Cameron had an exciting update for Arnold Schwarzenegger during their chat for the 2020 Austrian World Summit.
“We’re 100% complete on Avatar 2 and sort of 95% complete on Avatar 3," Cameron said of the highly-anticipated sequels.
Cameron pointed to New Zealand's handling of the pandemic as the reason they were one of the first Hollywood projects to resumer production.
“We’re very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago," he said. "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.”
"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," he continued.
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.
Cameron previously released a lengthy statement following news of the postponement, saying, "As many of you are aware, due to COVID-19, we were forced into an unexpected lengthy delay in starting the live action filming we are currently doing in New Zealand. What most of you likely do not know is that the pandemic is still preventing us from being allowed to recommence most of our virtual production work on stages in Los Angeles. That work is just as critical as the live action work."
Cameron, 65, said that the cast and crew were initially on schedule with production, but the ongoing pandemic made it "no longer possible" for them to meet the original 2021 release date.
"There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me. But I am buoyed by the incredible performances of our cast and extraordinary work that Weta digital is doing bringing the world of Pandora and the character of the film to life," Cameron said. "Most of all, I am grateful to you, our fans, for your support over the years and I promise that what we bring to cinemas will deliver."