Long-Delayed Avatar Sequels Forced to Shut Down Production in New Zealand Over Coronavirus Fears

Visual effects on the films will continue to be worked on amid the filming delay

Avatar - 2009
Photo: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

James Cameron‘s long-delayed and eagerly anticipated sequels to Avatar have been forced to stop filming in New Zealand due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Producer Jon Landau confirmed the decision to The New Zealand Herald, saying, “We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the [coronavirus] curve.”

Visual effects on the films will continue to be worked on amid the filming delay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The outlet reports the four announced sequels, which are all being shot at the same time, are budgeted at around $1 billion.

Avatar - 2009
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The first sequel is still slated for a December 2021 release. Three more sequels are expected to follow in 2023, 2025 and 2027.

At the time of its release back in 2009, the original Avatar wowed audiences with its technical achievements and stunning visual effects.

Not only did the film go on to become the highest grossing movie of all time — before being dethroned last year by Avengers: Endgame — it also won three Academy Awards.

RELATED VIDEO: Avatar 2: First Look At Sequel’s Next Generation Cast

Aside from returning cast members like Zoë Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, the sequel adds Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh and Kate Winslet, who previously worked with Cameron on 1997’s Titanic.

Cameron revealed in February 2019 that Winslet “was a phenomenal collaborator and just so gung-ho” about preparing for her role as Ronal, a free-diving member of the Pandoran race.

The film required underwater scenes that Winslet had to prep for, Cameron told Vulture.

“She was really excited about doing the water work and at her peak, I think she held her breath for seven-and-a-half minutes — not during the scene but just during the training,” he said at the time. “She was regularly doing two- or three-minute scenes, underwater acting and swimming.”

Cameron added, “She truly embraced the physicality of the character.”

“She was a dream to work with — not the pain in the a— that she was the first time,” he joked. “No, she was a dream on Titanic as well.”

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