Sequels to Avatar, writer-director James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster environmental parable and ode to 3-D, were officially announced in 2010, after Twentieth Century Fox decide they wanted to add to Avatar's almost $3 billion worldwide box office take, contractually locking down Cameron before he could run off and make something that didn't take place on Pandora.
What Fox didn't expect is for the sequels to take so long. With Avatar 2 expected for release in Christmas 2014, followed by Avatar 3 in 2015, production was supposed to start later this year. It still hasn't started. The first sign that the sequels might take more time than originally planned arrived last June when Cameron revealed that Avatar 2 and 3 were still in the script phase. The latest update suggests that Avatar 2 may be more likely to arrive in 2016, two years behind schedule.
Bleeding Cool attended a preview screening for several scenes of the upcoming 3-D re-released of Cameron's Titanic, and spoke to producer Jon Landau, who revealed that Avatar 2 was at least "four years away". Math tells us that means 2016, and, if Landau is correct, a Christmas 2015 release could be possible as well. Avatar 3 would follow a year later, as planned (but also two years later).
The reasons for the delay aren't too difficult to understand. Cameron isn't writing one movie, but two, and plans to shoot both back-to-back. Not to mention Cameron's obsession with technology means that the director will likely be working to make his sequels look even better than the original, and Landau revealed that the sequels will showcase more advanced technology. That could, possibly, add even more time in post-production. It's worth noting that Cameron worked for over a decade on the first Avatar, eventually building the cameras that would shoot the movie in 3-D and make the format omnipresent at movie theaters worldwide, so delays are to be expected now that Cameron is shooting two Avatar movies.
Fox likely isn't worried about a delay after watching Avatar become a worldwide phenomenon. While the studio is certainly anxious for more, there's billions of dollars to count while Cameron prepares for another trip to Pandora.