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25th Dec 2022

James Cameron says he’s already filmed Avatar 3 and 4 to avoid the ‘Stranger Things’ effect

Steve Hopkins

‘They’re supposed to still be in high school, and they look like they’re 27’

While a massive winter storm in the US has kept audiences at home, Avatar: The Way of Water dominated at the box office over Christmas, according to reports, making it the fifth-highest grossing movie of 2022, all in just 10 days.

Variety said the sequel, which comes 13 years after the original hit cinemas, made $56 million from 4,202 North American theaters over the traditional weekend. The publisher said the movie looks set to collect $82 million between Friday and Monday, which would bring its domestic tally to $278 million.

The publication calculated that the sequel has already grossed $601m internationally and $855.4m globally, making it the fifth-highest grossing movie of 2022, all in just 10 days.

The movie’s director, James Cameron, has previously hinted that it needs to hit the $1 billion mark to break even.

While most people probably haven’t seen Avatar: The Way of Water yet, Cameron has said the wait for the follow ups won’t be as long. The third movie in the series is hoped to be released in 2o24, the fourth in 2026, and the fifth in 2028.

While the third and fourth film may still be a few years away, Cameron has said that he has already filmed scenes to avoid the ‘Stranger Things’ effect.

Cameron told Entertainment Weekly that he decided on filming the films simultaneously so that the younger actors do not age out of their role.

Performance-capture VFX can transform actors into their blue alien-like characters in Avatar, but cannot prevent growth spurts.

So, to make the films as authentic as possible, Cameron filmed the third and fourth films while also working on the sequel to the 2009 classic.

He said: “I love Stranger Things, but you get the Stranger Things effect where they’re supposed to still be in high school, and they look like they’re 27.”

Actor John Champion is one of a few young actors in The Way of Water. He was 12 when he got the role, but is now 18.

Cameron recalls Champion “growing like a weed” during filming, saying: “We shot with Jack when he was 14 and 15, almost up to 16. So we were shooting him over an 18-month period.”

Cameron told the EW that he thought his plans for the sequel may have been scuppered by the pandemic.

Restrictions meant that production had to be shut down, right in the middle of Champion’s window before he was expected to have a noticeable growth spurt and look different.

Cameron said: “I was imagining scenarios where we don’t go back to work for a year and a half, and we’re completely screwed because he’s aged out, and then we have to go back and reshoot with another guy.

“It was like, ‘Just hand me the shotgun.’ But fortunately, it didn’t work out that way. “We were able to appeal to the New Zealand government to let in a small group of our key [actors] so that we could bring the production back.”

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