How many Avatar movies does one person need in a single lifetime? For years—pretty much since the film debuted in 2009, becoming the highest-grossing movie in the world—that number was five, according to director James Cameron. Now, he seems to be hedging his bets on his giant, lanky blue cat people.
At the very least, he’s entertaining the possibility that Avatar: The Way of Water might not be the monstrous smash hit the original movie was. “The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘OK, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly’, if it’s just not profitable,” Cameron told Total Film magazine.
If past is prologue, The Way of Water will be just fine, but not everything is stacked in its favor. It’s been 13 long years since Avatar premiered, and Avatar-mania died down very quickly after the movie departed theaters. It also benefited from the sudden proliferation of Real 3D technology, which Cameron’s masterfully used to make Avatar a cinematic experience unlike just about any other, but movie-goers have mostly given up on 3D movies since then.
The funniest thing here is that if The Way of Water flops, if it actually loses money, Cameron’s just going to make a third movie anyway and people can deal with it. It’s certainly his prerogative since he has zillions of dollars and can spend them on a movie no one wants if he wants. But if The Way of Water is a massive success, does that mean people want three more movies about the adventures of the Sully family and their sex tentacles? It remains to be seen.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.