James Cameron Addresses the Necessity of Avatar 2’s Epic Length

James Cameron is no stranger to epic movies and epic runtimes, and with Avatar: The Way of Water, the director is once again set to test audiences’ bladders to their limit. His Avatar sequel will fall just short of 1997’s Titanic, but at over three hours, the film will take its place as Cameron’s second longest movie ever, and that is something he says is needed to develop both new and old characters correctly.

As part of his lengthy interview for the new edition of Total Film via GamesRadar, Cameron explained that his emphasis is on character, and making sure that all of the characters get the story they deserve takes time to do right. He said:

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“The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis. I would say the emphasis in the new film is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn’t spend as much time on relationship and emotion in the first film as we do in the second film, and it’s a longer film, because there’s more characters to service. There’s more story to service.”

There are usually two types of three-hour-plus movies. Those that need to be that length, and those that have not been edited quite as brutally as they could be. Which will Avatar: The Way of Water be? From what is known so far, it seems that the bum-numbing runtime could well be wholly justified.

What if Avatar 2 Bombs at the Box Office?

20th Century Studios

With over a decade between the release of Avatar and its sequel, there was initially a strong belief that James Cameron may have left it too long to bring his vision for the Avatar franchise to screen. Having a plan in place for three further sequels, with some work already being completed on all of them, needs a big commitment and a lot of faith in Avatar: The Way of Water not to crash and burn when it is released in December. If the unthinkable did happen, Cameron has already revealed that he has a plan on how to end the story earlier than planned. He said:

“The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘Okay, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly,’ if it’s just not profitable … We’re in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even. It’s the one-two punch – the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we’ll remind people what going to the theater is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a s*** now?”

However, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know that Avatar 2 bombing is about as likely as a Marvel movie failing to break even. The re-release of Avatar in cinemas in September reminded audiences of the wonder and visually mind-blowing world of Pandora, and many are now desperate to return again next month. Avatar: The Way of Water arrives in cinemas on December 16.