It’s hard to believe, but after a number of false starts over the past several years, James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar sequels have finally begun filming… and they’ve got an intriguing price tag.
According to Deadline, the four films — which are filming simultaneously — feature a combined budget that’s expected to exceed one billion dollars. Now, that may look like an eye-popping number, but it’s actually not. The original Avatar is rumored to have cost around $300 million — and that’s in 2009 dollars — which makes the price tag for these four, clocked at around $250 million each, look like a bargain. Couple that with the fact that the Avengers franchise is reportedly spending a billion dollars combined on just their next two films, and all of the sudden the Avatar sequels look like a steal.
Of course, this is just an early, unofficial estimate, and the cost of the films could certainly balloon, but if Fox really is limiting the sequels’ budget to these non-stratospheric levels, then it could show that the studio isn’t betting on them being a sure thing at the box office. Granted, Avatar is still the highest-grossing film of all-time with a worldwide total of $2.7 billion, but it hasn’t aged particularly well. The original was an event film featuring groundbreaking technology that demanded repeated theatrical viewings, but the sequels will likely lack this factor. There is also no real fandom to speak of that sprung from the first film, and very few people were ever clamoring for a sequel. Maybe some were in 2010, but by the time Avatar 2 hits theaters in 2020 — more than a decade since the first film — it remains to be seen just how excited people will be for it. Here’s some perspective: When Avatar debuted, Kylie Jenner was an 8-year-old child. By the time the sequel lands in 2020, she’ll have a 2-year-old child of her own. Take that for what it’s worth.
We’ll have to wait and see how these Avatar films turn out. Hopefully they’ll prove to be as much of a can’t-miss-theater event that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking like the original, but with their comparatively paltry budget, we’re not so sure that will be the case.