Avatar Sequels Delayed a Year; Will Disney World's Avatar Land Open First?
While construction continues on Disney's new Avatar
land at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, production of the new Avatar
films have fallen behind schedule.
Director James Cameron said Wednesday in New Zealand that he's pushing the next Avatar film back to 2017, as he's not yet completed the scripts for the next three Avatar films, which will be produced simultaneously. The first of the three planned Avatar sequels had been slated to premiere at Christmas 2016. Now it's looking like Christmas 2017 instead.
The first phase of Disney's "World of Pandora" Avatar land is also slated to open in 2017, so it now appears possible — indeed, likely — that the Avatar attractions will open before the sequels, unless Disney decides to hold back on the opening until 2018 to take advantage of the promotion around the new films. On the flip side, having the sequels delayed by a year might allow Disney to open the new land under less pressure, as there likely won't be as much public attention on the franchise before the films come out.
In case you're wondering what will be in Disney's Avatar land, we leaked the blueprints for the centerpiece 3D "Soarin'"-like ride in late 2013. Disney broke ground on the site of the old Camp Mickey-Minnie a year ago, and construction's gone vertical on the new show buildings.
I'm not holding my breath for either the movies or the DAK land. I think both could be epic failures.
I still think they are crazy to be going forward with avatar instead of star wars. I mean, I enjoyed avatar the movie. It was a well made movie. If the sequels suck, though, no one will remember it. Star Wars has been around for decades and has a huge following. why would you pick a 'had one good movie' thing and bet your future on that. It just seems crazy to me.
Disney acquired Star Wars a long time after they announced Avatar. Disney couldn't go back on its announcement especially since they specifically cited technology that they wanted to use for Avatar. This means the technology wouldn't be a match with Star Wars.
I agree with Tracy. I'll never understand disney fastforwarding avatar after 1 movie, in a theme park that has nothing to do with science fiction, when star wars has been the biggest movie/franchise success since 1977! I would be much more interested in seeing an austrailia, south america, European, Siberian antarctica land! And it has nothing to do with owning Lucasfilm. Disney doesnt own avatar and yet they're building the land. The only thing I can think of is Harry potter. Disney panicked at Universals monumental success and wanted something new and trendy to match.
I still just can't wrap my head around the Avatar connection w DAK at all. Sure the ride and land could look really cool but what does it have to do with Disney or Animal Kingdom? And I can't remember a single character from the movie at all without having to google it. I just don't see people making the concerted effort to visit DAK because of Avatar. I guess we will wait and see. Disney usually knows what they're doing but that's not always the case (e.g. DCA).
"James Cameron has always outperformed"
So let me get this straight. Avatar is 1 movie and science fiction, whereas Star Wars is science fiction and definitely not going into Animal Kingdom and will remain in DHS, not a sci-fi themed park.
"Not always" Okay, I'll leave it at that for the 1/4th.
If you're curious about what the actual ride is, here it is.
Avatar & Star Wars are 2 different franchises, (just like Marvel).
I know Star Wars wouldn't fit in Animal Kingdom, but I'd have preferred they made an Australia land or something instead.
The film won't flop or be a dud. One reason - James Cameron. Look at his track record. Look at the gross records for Titanic and Avatar, look at how massive those were in terms of money. One and two biggest grossing movies of all time by a massive margin in the entire movie industry. It's on his name this attraction is being built.
Hopefully the sequels will garner some more buzz for Avatar for generations to come. With a movie coming out almost 8 years after the original it will really have to work to reach an entire new audience and really work to help it resonate in the minds of new audience-goers, the way Cameron did with Titanic, Terminator, and Aliens.
It's great that Disney is finally adding new attractions to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. What took them so long? Can somebody explain to me why Disney doesn't take successful rides from their overseas parks and build carbon copies of those attractions in America? This would be a quick way to upgrade several parks that desperately need new attractions.
Again, a theme park land is determined by the quality of the attractions, not the source material. Cars was one of the worse Pixar films, but every loves the land at DCA, so why can't the same apply to Avatar? If the New Fantasyland landscaping is an indicator, I'm sure Disney is really going to knock it out of the park with this one.
Giving Disney one full year of additional time to build Avatarland is a blessing. They may put a few extra bucks into the project, or simply take more time and be able to avoid shortcuts that cheapen the project. Additionally, I would love to see them at least partially move away from phased openings, a la New Fantasyland.
Here's a correction to my post above. It should have read:
I fully expect Disney will use this as an excuse to drag their feet even more on this project (though they'd never say such a thing publicly). It's been 3+ years since they announced Avatarland, and they've only just recently begun to go vertical. I could easily see them taking another 3 years just to get Phase One open, with Phase Two following 12 - 18 months later (assuming they're going to go with a phased opening, which I'm sure they are). Kind of a pathetic timetable, but Disney seems to have lost the ability to build things quickly.
Anon said "outperformed", and in that metric, True Lies did not outperform. The expectations for the film was that it would be a huge blockbuster. It had one of the highest budgets for a movie ever ($115 million) at the time or its release (1994), and the expectation was for it to at least break $150 million domestically. If you go back and look at the reporting when it was released, True Lies was a bit of a disappointment, and certainly did not "outperform"---It was doubled up in 1994 by both Forest Gump and The Lion King, and almost got beat by The Santa Clause, all films that cost a fraction of Cameron's film.
"the expectation was for it to at least break $150 million domestically."
"Russell, we disagree. I'll leave it at that."
"I have little doubt that the Avatar sequels will be profitable, but will they rekindle the phenomenon of the original, and pique enough interest to drive people to want to visit DAK in the way that Harry Potter has done for Universal."
I'm not sure why it's a one or the other debate?
"That's why the knock on Avatar on whether it will match Harry Potter is misplaced."
MY WDI sources tell me that it is full speed ahead on Avatar land construction. No delays. Expect the 2017 Phase One opening to go as planned.
"did Disney need to go out and spend money on an IP when they had the Beastly Kingdom plans already in hand."
If Avatar Land provides a great immersive setting and terrific rides, I don't think it will matter how little cultural impact the original movie had (unlike Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Hobbits, etc;) or how good the seqels are...whenever they arrive.
"True Lies had a worldwide gross of $378-million, plus another $80-million in rental revenue. That's outperforming for sure and especially for a movie that cost $115-million to produce. It ranks #215 on the highest grossing films of all time. Just for comparison Back to the Future is #213 and Raiders of the Lost Ark is #207. Do you consider those two well known hits under performers?"
"Huh? The oddest argument against Avatar that I've seen. Having no buzz for Avatar is one thing. Disney can at least promote Avatar Land to the fans that do like and remember it. This means mostly foreign tourists. With John Carter, it is a dud out of the gates."
"I'm still interested to see how the film delay might affect the promotional side of things for WDW, but none of this is delaying the construction of the land."
"My point is that they could theme these attractions and guest areas to virtually anything and deliver the same experience as one overlayed with the Avatar theme."
"I know you don't like Avatar for legitimate reasons. A knockoff makes even less sense."
Thanks to Anon Mouse and Russell Meyer for a great discussion! Kind of like dueling pianos. Both of you make a lot of good points and raise interesting questions.
"Avatar does not necessarily bring new revenue into the fold, definitely not in the way that HP did...."
I agree that HP is unique, but I also think that theme parks need to spend their IP dollars wisely. I don't think using Avatar is a detriment to the project, but I do think that they are paying a lot of money for an IP that won't bring a huge return on investment. As I said, they could theme the attractions and guest areas to virtually any fantastical animal environment and probably get the same revenue bump as they are from Avatar. Sure, the Avatar sequels provide the ability to cross promote, but does the investment offset the potential rewards. At this point, I would say it's looking like a wash.
"At this point, I would say it's looking like a wash."
I am very excited for both the Avatar films and the Avatar expansion at DAK (and disappointed to hear the films are delayed - which is, sadly, par for the course for Mr. Cameron of late). Anyway, once the first film and new land are open I am sure I won't be the only one taking time out of his busy schedule to go experience them.
Just watch the movie again, it has "theme park attractions" written all over it. It's a natural.
Disney overpaid for Avatar to keep it from Universal. Universal was in talks to update Terminator 2 3D to Avatar. I also think Iger is giving Cameron anything he wants to woo him to the studio because after these movies his contract is up at Fox. No one else would put up with the delays for an attraction that is reusing an existing ride system. Cameron self funds his movies and he probably badly needed the cash that Disney gave him for the Avatar land to finish his films.
@ James Rao: Sorry if I wasn't clear. I intended to say that Disney believes Avatar merchandising can be as big as Frozen, and they have a plan to make that happen. The synergy from three new Avatar movies and a Disney Avatarland could result in massive merchandising profits for Disney and James Cameron. Three profit centers (movies, theme parks, merchandising) explain why this project is moving forward under the Avatar IP.
Ahhh, gotta love the sequels to a movie that nobody asked for.... Meanwhile, Universal will open it's third HP area (Ministry of Magic).
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