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Pandora will have to wait: Avatar 2 is delayed again

Disney’s recent decision to change the release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII has already caused one major studio to shake up its plans for 2017, but the sequel’s new, December premiere also prompted some speculation as to whether Episode VIII would challenge Avatar 2  for audiences that same month.

While a competition between the two box-office juggernauts would certainly be intriguing, a new report indicates that it won’t be happening due to yet another delay in production on James Cameron’s sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide.

Although Cameron suggested just last month that Avatar 2 would premiere during the Christmas season in 2017, The Wrap reports that the film will not be ready in time to hit theaters that year, and 20th Century Fox has declined to set a premiere date for the film at this point.

While the studio declined to offer any official confirmation that Avatar 2 was delayed, the fact that the movie has yet to begin filming would seem to support the rumor. Cameron intends to film both the sequel to Avatar and two additional sequels all at once, and given the long production period — and even longer post-production stage — a December 2017 release does indeed seem unlikely.

If the film is indeed pushed back in the release calendar, it will be the second major delay for Avatar 2, which was originally expected to premiere this December. Subsequent installments of the franchise were to hit theaters in December of 2017 and 2018.

Related: Star Wars: The Force Awakens dethrones Avatar for domestic box office record

However, with Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens quickly climbing up the box-office rankings and already supplanting Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S., it would seem wise for 20th Century Fox to avoid competition with the Star Wars franchise entirely — leading some to speculate that the Avatar sequels could aim for consecutive summer premieres.