“Avatar” fans will have to wait another year.
Walt Disney Co., which acquired the franchise when it bought 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets this year, will delay “Avatar 2” to December 2021 from 2020. Additional sequels also were pushed back, meaning a proposed “Avatar 5” won’t debut until 2027.
The move cuts what could have been Disney’s biggest film of 2020 from its schedule, meaning it will have to rely more other movies, such as “Cruella” and a “West Side Story” reboot directed by Steven Spielberg. It also will have a trio of Marvel films, though two are still untitled.
Disney also announced plans for its “Star Wars” films. The next installment — following “The Rise of Skywalker” this December — is due in December 2022. Another will appear in 2024, with the third debuting in 2026.
That means there will be a three-year hiatus before the next “Star Wars” trilogy. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said last month that the company wanted to take a break after the current nine-picture saga concludes.
“We will take a pause, some time, and reset,” he told Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television in April. “The Skywalker saga comes to an end with this ninth movie. There will be other ‘Star Wars’ movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus.”
The first “Avatar” film in 2009 was the highest-grossing of all time and capitalized on the surging popularity of 3D movies. But audience interest in the franchise may have cooled since then. Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” is now poised to overtake it in box-office revenue.
The big question hanging over the series is whether writer-director James Cameron can rekindle excitement surrounding Avatar’s Pandora world and its Na’vi people over the next two to eight years.
Disney’s theme parks could help. A “World of Avatar” attraction opened in 2017 at Walt Disney World in Florida.