When Avengers: Avengers: Endgame surpassed Avatar to claim the title of the highest-grossing film in film history, Endgame ended one of the most impressive reigns of screen entertainment. Earlier James Cameron held the title for a long time, first with Titanic and then with Avatar, had owned the top spot on the charts for a staggering 7,817 consecutive days, just about of 21 1/2 years.
James was busy in New Zealand working on the sequels of Avatar in late July when Avengers: Endgame finally cast a shadow on the original Avatar and its $2.79 billion records. Was James Cameron sour when he heard the news? Far from it, James first reaction was actually relief and optimistic.
The marketplace was a far different one from 2010 when the Avatar sequels were announced with expected release dates in 2014 and 2015 and a story that would dive underneath the waves of Pandora’s alien oceans. Numerous delays led to a series of suspensions and filming didn’t get started until the second half of 2017. The production’s progress has been going slow, too, with the difficulties of extensive underwater shoots and exhaustive motion-capturing job.
“It gives me a lot of hope,” James stated. “ Endgame is verifiable proof that people would still like to 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 about sitting home and getting content by online mediums, I thought 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.”
This year Disney acquired the 20th Century Fox, the new timetable calls for Avatar 2 to land in theatres December 17, 2021, and Avatar 3 arriving on December 22, 2023. Fourth and fifth Avatar films are scheduled for 2024 and 2027, individually. That explains James Cameron’s relief at seeing the theatrical strength of Avengers: Endgame in an era when ticket sales have dropped significantly.
“Will next Avatar 2 and 3 be able to create that kind of success in the spirit of the Oline content era? Who knows but We’re trying. Perhaps we do, perhaps we don’t, but the point is, it’s still possible,” James said. “I’m happy to see it, as opposed to an alternate scenario where, with the steady availability, a custom-designed experience that everyone can create for themselves with streaming services and all the different platforms, that (theatrical potential) might not exist anymore.”
Cameron, who just celebrated his 65th birthday on August 16, has directed a grand total of just ten films in his filming career. The Canadian filmmaker made his directorial debut in 1981 with Piranha II: The Spawning but marked his breakthrough with his second feature film, The Terminator, which set the writer-director as a force to be considered within sci-fi and spectacle filmmaking. That was followed by Aliens (1986), The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar.
Instead, with his eye on the ticking clock of his career, Cameron is pleased to trade one spot in the record books for a significant reassurance that his future projects still have a chance to rival his past achievements. In other words, it’s a different endgame that had Cameron concerned. Watching Avatar and Titanic slip into second and third place, respectively, on the all-time box-office list is something Cameron can shrug off — especially considering that all-time tally is of somewhat debatable merit due to the vagaries of inflation, soaring ticket prices, 3D price upgrades, etc. (In fact, with totals adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind is the all-time champ followed by Titanic, Avatar, and the first Star Wars.)
“I’m just glad it still exists because I’m all about the big screen,” James said. “Not that I wouldn’t do something for streaming sites 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 into an entirely different experience. You, as a viewer, engage for two hours or two and a half hours, whatever it is, and I still want to do it. And that still exists!”