Avatar 2 slips to 2017, James Cameron blames script woes

The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest-grossing film ever made, will have its premiere delayed a year due to difficulties finalizing the project’s script.

Cameron confirmed the shift to a 2017 release for the Avatar sequel during an event held in New Zealand to promote the local film industry, according to The Associated Press. The original plan was to pen an over-arching script encompassing three sequels to the record-breaking 2009 sci-fi adventure, then film all three chapters back-to-back (in New Zealand), and subsequently release each installment in consecutive years beginning in late 2016.

The first of the three films will now hit theaters in late 2017.

“There’s a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don’t get when you’re making a stand-alone film,” explained Cameron.

The original film cast Sam Worthington as a disabled Marine tasked with infiltrating the alien species that inhabits a lush moon filled with valuable resources. As he learns more about the species, he finds himself torn between his mission and protecting the inhabitants of this beautiful (but dangerous) new world.

The film won three Oscars and currently sits atop both the domestic and global box-office rankings as the highest-grossing film of all time.

“We’re writing three simultaneously,” added Cameron. “And we’ve done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films. We’re not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that. And parallel with that, we’re doing all the design. So we’ve designed all the creatures and the environments.”

Along with Worthington, Avatar cast members Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver have all been confirmed to return for the sequel.