The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has caused delays and shutdowns across a lot of businesses and sectors, and the moviemaking business is no different. The sequel to one of the biggest and most successful movies of all time, ‘Avatar’, has also been hit by these delays, but is now finally rumoured to be going onto the filming stage.
It can be easy to forget the impact that ‘Avatar’ had, not just on movies and cinema, but on popular culture, when it was released in 2009, over a decade ago now. We take movies in 3D for granted nowadays, but it was this James Cameron epic that brought the technology into the mainstream. Back then, ‘Avatar’ was an experience unlike any other for most audiences, and it is thus no surprise to learn that it spawned so much content across other media formats as well. There have been games, references in other movies and TV shows, and even online slot machine games based on ‘Avatar’. Online slots fans in New Zealand or elsewhere have all seen video slot games based on the movie, with the game also being immensely successful in the video slot world, akin to the movie’s success.
‘Avatar’ was the highest-grossing movie of all time for almost a decade, before being recently overtaken by ‘Avengers: Endgame’. It is still second on that list, and to that end, fans have been waiting for the sequel to this epic for years now. Thus, the news that ‘Avatar 2’ will be released in December 2021, having been pushed back a year due to the ongoing pandemic, has been met with a lot of anticipation and joy by fans. What’s more, Cameron plans on making this a long-running saga, with movies planned for release every other year right until December 2027 and ‘Avatar 5’. While that is a long way off, what we do know is that ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘Avatar 3’ have finished principal filming, with the immediate sequel set to do some more filming in New Zealand imminently. All of the shooting done so far has been with green screens and motion capture, but there is quite a lot of filming which needs to be done on location as well.
This decision comes as the New Zealand government eased restrictions to allow film crews to return to the country, and so the likes of ‘Avatar’ and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show can now come back and resume their shooting schedules. At the same time, the government has also announced a relief package for the sector worth just under $75 million. Of this money, $50 million will be used to produce up to five movies or TV series, while the remaining $23.4 million will be distributed to cover the increased costs which productions have incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many productions having been delayed, and some even having to shut down, due to lack of funding. The aim of the government is to ensure that New Zealand’s own productions, as well as projects which are employing New Zealanders, are not affected due to a shortfall in funding during this crisis. Additionally, $25 million more will also be spent by New Zealand On Air over the next few years to ensure that people and communities of colour are given the proper information as well as appropriate representation in projects going forward.
‘Avatar’ rewrote the rules for cinema, and in many ways, set the field for how motion pictures are successful at the box office today. With ‘Avatar 2’ now finally getting into the home stretch before release, it is no surprise that fans and the general public are all waiting for this epic to see if Cameron can pull off something magical yet again.