James Cameron’s plan for years with his Avatar franchise was easily one of the most wildly ambitious ever attempted for a major film series. Cameron himself was going to write and direct four Avatar sequels back to back to back to back. The first of these, Avatar: The Way of Water, finally makes it to theaters this winter. The three subsequent sequels are supposed to follow every other Christmas season from now until 2028.

As you can see, that’s an enormous amount of work, and Cameron has already committed years and years to the projects. (He’s been shooting footage for the sequels since 2017 — five years ago!) And it seems like Cameron is already starting to sense that maintaining this workload might not be feasible for another six years. Speaking to Empire, Cameron revealed that he might “pass the baton” to another director who could take over the final films in the franchise.

Here was his exact quote:

The Avatar films themselves are kind of all-consuming. I’ve got some other things I’m developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time – I don’t know if that’s after three or after four – I’ll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I’m also interested in. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

If Cameron does in fact give his director’s chair to another filmmaker, it wouldn’t be the first time. He developed Alita: Battle Angel for years with plans to direct the material himself, but eventually became so consumed with the Avatar sequels that he decided to let Robert Rodriguez direct the movie in his place. (Cameron still co-produced and co-wrote the film.)

I guess if you love James Cameron but don’t like Avatar, this could be good news, because it suggests he has other projects he wants to make and might get around to them sooner than 2030. On the other hand, if you wanted to see Cameron carry this quixotic vision of an epic alien saga to its massive conclusion, you definitely don’t want him to pass the reins to someone else right before the end. That would be hugely disappointing.

But, Cameron himself says he still doesn’t know what will happen. A lot could change in the movie world between then and now. First things first: Avatar: The Way of Water has to open exclusively in theaters on December 16, 2022.

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