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Avatar 2 Long Runtime Caused Some Tension, Says Cameron

by John Paul
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James Cameron, who directed Avatar: The Way of Water, said that the film’s length generated friction on set. The run time of Avatar: The Way of Water is an impressive 3 hours and 12 minutes. It is longer than other recent epic action films, such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2 hours, 41 minutes), Avengers: Infinity War (2 hours, 29 minutes), and this year’s smash sequel Top Gun: Maverick (2 hours, 10 minutes). Prior to release, Cameron poked fun at the length of Avatar 2 by telling fans they could use the restroom “any time they like” and could “watch the scene they missed when they come see it again

Even though Cameron joked about the length of Avatar 2, he revealed that he fought to retain the running time of Avatar: The Way of Water at its original three hours. He reportedly proposed a three-hour runtime for Avatar 2 to 21st Century Fox. Cameron’s “moral obligation” to stick to his original plan for a three-hour sequel after Disney’s 2017 purchase of Fox reportedly generated “a lot of strain,” with both the studio and Cameron struggling to strike the right balance between “maintaining engagement” and “conserving beauty.” Read Cameron’s complete words down below:

I think there was a lot of tension around the length. And because it’s a complicated linear narrative, which is the worst scenario for trying to shorten, you’ve got a complex story servicing a lot of characters, and it’s like dominos falling: This has to happen for that to happen. You’re not following a bunch of parallel plot lines in a way that you could take a lot out. The hardest thing when you’re trying to shorten a film is to hold onto the things that don’t advance the plot, that are beautiful or scary or suspenseful for their own sake. Things came out, and we put things back in if I felt the pacing was off.

Was It Worth Watching Avatar 2 for Over Three Hours?

In the wake of the film’s debut, Avatar: The Way of Water’s length has generated considerable discussion among reviewers. Most critics agree that the Avatar sequel is too long and that its plot is too simplistic to justify the epic size of the picture. However, none can deny the impressive visual effects. Moreover, it cannot be denied that Cameron prioritizes “preserving beauty” over actual story development for a good portion of the film’s duration. In Avatar: The Way of Water, viewers spend long stretches of time watching blue people and the wildlife around them swim, whether to witness the return of the tulku or Kiri’s first encounter underwater.

Despite these complaints, Avatar: The Way of Water features extensive growth for its characters.

Even if there aren’t many exciting moments or developments in the event-driven plot throughout the film’s second third, that time is well spent developing a cast of unique individuals and their relationships with one another.

Lo’ak, the social pariah brother, and Kiri, the Na’vi adoptee looking for her biological family, are introduced here. Even though Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t advance the plot with gunfights and peril, the movie’s lengthy second act manages to “[maintain] involvement.” The number of characters in The Way of Water is much larger than that of 2009’s Avatar, and each is given more attention and development than Jake Sully, the film’s protagonist.

When it comes to length, will future installments of Avatar 2 be consistent with the first?

Now that Cameron has committed to making Avatar 3, 4, and 5, he must consider the films’ running times. Cameron will likely maintain this pattern and lean toward these larger, extended narratives, as Avatar: The Way of Water ran 30 minutes longer than its predecessor. Members of the Avatar production crew have reported that the screenplays keep getting better, but fans are wondering whether this means the sequels will go on for even longer. Development of Avatar 3 is ongoing, with a release date set for December 2024.



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