How Long Did It Take to Make Avatar 2: The Way of Water?

How Long Did It Take to Make Avatar 2: The Way of Water?

After years of waiting, Avatar: The Way of Water has finally released to theaters, and audiences are reimmersing themselves into the world of Pandora. For some, this has been a long time coming, but just how long did it take to make Avatar 2 from the time the movie was announced till when it was released? The answer is somewhat complicated.

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It Took Many Years to Make Avatar 2: The Way of Water

If you want a straight answer, it has been 13 years between the first film and this one, but the film hasn’t been in active development for all of those years. After the success of Avatar, director James Cameron stated that he would begin designing and planning the film’s sequels, which were originally set for a 2014 and 2015 release date. Production kept on being delayed due to Cameron’s desire to innovate with the film, such as filming at a higher frame rate, having new aquatic-based camerawork and technology, the frequent script rewrites, and adding even more films to the series, upping the sequel total from two films to four. Basically, Cameron kept on adding more to his plate and delaying the film for loftier and loftier ambitions.

The shooting was also incredibly drawn out for Avatar: The Way of Water, with principal photography beginning in September of 2017 alongside the shooting of Avatar 3, with the two being filmed together due to cost-effectiveness and since both films’ plots would naturally flow together. Due to the amount of CGI work needed for the project, motion capture took over a year to complete, eventually wrapping in November 2018. But even then, that was only for the motion-capture scenes.

Live-action filming still had yet to take place, which began in 2019 in New Zealand but was delayed indefinitely in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic halting any and all production in the film industry around the world. Production had to be delayed for about three months, eventually resuming in June 2020. Cameron announced in September 2020 that filming was complete, giving it a three-year development period before factoring in visual effects and CGI integration, which officially concluded by November 2022 when the first screenings of the film took place, one month before its theatrical release.

So there you have it, three separate answers on how long it took to make Avatar 2: The Way of Water. If you want to view it from announcement to release, then it took around 13 years to make. If you want to view it from when filming began to when the film was released, then it took around five years to make. If you are only interested in the production of the film and how long it took to film it, then it took three years to make. Avatar: The Way of Water certainly had a long production cycle no matter how you look at it, and by default, its already filmed sequel will have had an even longer one from conception to release.

Related: Who Did it Better Avatar 2 or Wakanda Forever? on The Mary Sue

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Jesse Lab
Jesse Lab is a freelance writer for The Escapist and has been a part of the site since 2019. He currently writes the Frame Jump column, where he looks at and analyzes major anime releases. He also writes for the film website Jesse has been a gamer since he first played Pokémon Snap on the N64 and will talk to you at any time about RPGs, platformers, horror, and action games. He can also never stop talking about the latest movies and anime, so never be afraid to ask him about recommendations on what's in theaters and what new anime is airing each season.