When Avengers: Endgame dethroned James Cameron’s Avatar at the number one spot at the worldwide box office, many expected the famously competitive Cameron – he has in the past slammed superhero movies – to say something controversial. But after tweeting congratulations to Disney and Marvel after the record-breaking achievement, the filmmaker has now said that Endgame’s success gives him ‘a lot of hope’.
In an interview to Deadline, Cameron said, “Avengers: Endgame is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theatres. The thing that scared me most about making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something.”
Cameron, who recently turned 65, has directed just 10 narrative features in his career. He had spent over 21 years as the director of the world’s highest grossing film before Marvel usurped the spot. He is currently filming the second and third Avatar films, and is in pre-production on Avatar 4 and Avatar 5.
“Will Avatar 2 and 3 be able to create that kind of success in the zeitgeist? Who knows. We’re trying. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but the point is, it’s still possible,” Cameron said. “I’m happy to see it, as opposed to an alternate scenario where, with the rapid availability, custom-designed experience that everybody can create for themselves with streaming services and all the different platforms, that [theatrical potential] might not have existed anymore.”
When the first Avatar movie released in 2009, China’s movie market was in its nascent stage. In the decade that followed, it has emerged as the world second biggest market, and is expected to contribute heavily to the Avatar sequels’ box office.
Cameron said that while he isn’t averse to exploring streaming, his focus lies on the theatrical experience. “I’m just glad it still exists because I’m all about the big screen,” Cameron said. “Not that I wouldn’t do something for streaming where you can get into the characters in a different way but what I love the most to do is to create that completely kind of subsuming experience where you turn off your phone and you engage. You as an audience member engage for two hours or two and a half hours, whatever it is. And that still exists!”
Avatar 2 is slated for a December 17, 2021 release, while Avatar 3 is expected to arrive in December 2023.