Avatar: The Way of Water has finally arrived, a full 13 years after its predecessor. But with the movie poised to be a smash hit, and Avatar 3, 4, and 5 plans announced a decade ago, it’s hard not to immediately look ahead at what’s next for the world of Pandora and the larger Avatar universe.
Director James Cameron has been on an extensive press tour for Avatar 2 and a lot of the talk has involved the theoretical three Avatar sequels that are apparently on the way. Cameron hasn’t been shy about where those movies or at and basic details, which means we know more about what the next decade has in store for Avatar than we might with a typical franchise.
One thing that may surprise fans, based on how these massive franchises normally work, is how Cameron went about writing them. After the success of the original movie, when plans for so many sequels were first made, Cameron put together a writers’ room similar to the ones assembled for a season of television. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), and Shane Salerno (Hawaii Five-0) worked along with Cameron to develop the story for the franchise, then split up to each take a script for a film. This kind of proactive approach also shows up in how Cameron went about filming the movies; large parts of the next three movies have already been filmed with actors Sam Worthington, Stephen Lange, Zoe Saldaña, and the new child actors.
But with all those exciting behind-the-scenes details revealed, it still doesn’t give us the full picture of what we know about the next three Avatar movies. So here’s a breakdown on Avatar 3, 4, and 5, pieced together from Cameron’s comments and our conversations with the Avatar: The Way of Water crew.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water, and also potentially for future Avatar movies.]
When will Avatar 3 be released?
Avatar 3 is set for release on Dec. 20, 2024. Originally the setup of releasing one Avatar movie every two years was designed to give the franchise room to breathe (though not 13 years this time around) while leaving Disney space to release new Star Wars movies. Since those plans were made, however, Star Wars’ theatrical future has become a little murkier, but Disney still shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something to replace Rogue Squadron if it’s not ready in time.
What is the title of the next Avatar movie?
The supposed titles of the Avatar sequels were leaked by the BBC in 2018, based on “documentation,” and while Cameron didn’t confirm any of the titles, he did say that they were among those being considered, including The Way of Water for the second movie. With that in mind, the leaked title for Avatar 3 is The Seed Bearer. This doesn’t necessarily mean this is exactly what this movie will be called, but considering that Cameron and his co-writers have already worked ahead on a few movies now, he likely has a great idea of what he’d like it titled.
What’s it about?
So far, the only things Cameron has alluded to on the record is that Avatar 3 will be about the Sully family, with a focus on the kids. Perhaps the easiest guess is that this movie will continue Jake’s campaign against the Quartich and the skypeople, and follow Kiri more closely after her superpowered third-act in The Way of Water.
Cameron’s collaborators have told Polygon to expect even more underwater action. According to costume designer Deborah L. Scott, behind-the-scenes images of Kate Winslet underwater waving around a big white cape are actually from Avatar 3, while director of photography Russell Carpenter’s tells us that “there was more underwater work done for the other movie.” So if you thought Avatar: The Way of Water was wet, wait until Avatar 3.
In further, somewhat confusing, developments on the movie’s plot, James Cameron told French publication 20 Minutes, that the third movie will include evil fire Na’vi. Cameron says that this is because he wants to “show the Na’vi from another angle,” which presumably means make some of them bad guys.
Unfortunatley, none of this means we actually know how the new Na’vi will fit into the plot, or what exactly that plot will be, but at least since The Way of Water has been a box office hit the movie’s safely on the way.
How far along is Avatar 3?
Avatar 3 has been entirely shot, at least according to Cameron, producer Jon Landau, and Carpenter. This movie was shot back-to-back with the second installment.
OK, so when will Avatar 4 be released?
The last time Disney updated its release calendar, Avatar 4 was set for Dec. 18, 2026, sticking to the “one Avatar every two years” schedule.
Does Avatar 4 have a name?
The leaked title for Avatar 4 is Avatar: The Tulkun Rider — though again this has not been confirmed as the title. Given that we already see someone ride (sort of) a Tulkun in this movie, it’s a little unclear what this title might be referring to, so we’ll probably have to wait for more details on that front. But we’re imagining Dune in the Avatar-verse.
How far along is it?
This is a little less clear than with the third movie, but we do know that it’s written, according to Cameron, and that the cast and crew have shot part of the movie, but definitely not the whole thing. Landau told Polygon there were logistical reasons for the partial shoot. An obvious guess: it’s possible the young actors involved with The Way of Water needed to shoot a portion of Avatar 4 before, you know, growing up. More specifically, according to Cameron, on page 35 of the script for Avatar 4, the story will skip forward, letting the kids age up.
As far as where the story goes, Cameron has said the script for Avatar 4 was the first to provoke the studio’s response. He didn’t get notes, exactly...
“When I turned in the script for 4,” he told Collider, “creative executive over the films, wrote me an email that said, ‘Holy f---.’ And I said, ‘Well, where are the notes?’ And she said, ‘Those are the notes.’ Because it kind of goes nuts in a good way.”
When will Avatar 5 be released?
Based on the two-year cycle and Disney’s current calendar, Avatar 5 will hit theaters in Dec. 22, 2028. But Landau tells Polygon that a fifth film isn’t necessarily a done deal — the fate of that proposed film may depend on how The Way of Water does at the box office.
Does Avatar 5 have a name?
Avatar: The Quest for Eywa is the rumored title for this one, but as with the others, we don’t have a lot of solid confirmation.
What’s it about?
Weirdly, we know a lot more about this one than we do about Avatar 4. According to Cameron’s most recent comments, he thinks Avatar 5 will bring the action to Earth. In the director’s words, Neytiri will see that not all humans are bad, but the audience will also see that not all Na’vi are good — which softly implies an Avatar alien-invasion movie. It sounds amazing.
How far along is Avatar 5?
Based on what we know, this is the least far along, and may not even be completely written yet. With that in mind, little to none of it seems to have been filmed, based on Cameron’s vague comments.