Aquaman 2 is not the only high-profile sequel eyeing its 2022 release date. Another film may force Warner Bros. to delay the upcoming Aquaman sequel.
Aquaman 2 needs to be delayed and not because of the suggested controversies around Amber Heard’s private life, but because of another huge release currently set for the same day. The DCEU sequel is currently set to release on December 16th, 2022, assuming the various complications surrounding Heard and her ex-husband Johnny Depp don’t impact filming, but the even stronger reason for Aquaman 2‘s release delay is Avatar 2.
Although 2018’s Aquaman amassed over $1 billion at the box office and developed a loyal cult following of its own, the franchise has not quite established itself as a perennial success like the MCU films, or even other DC properties, have. Fans and critics alike lauded the first film for its commitment to spectacle and fortunately, director James Wan is set to return for the sequel, ensuring a continued commitment to over-the-top action.
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Crucially, Wan’s film may have trouble finding an audience in December of 2022, where it currently plans to release alongside one of the most highly anticipated sequels in recent memory: James Cameron’s Avatar 2. Cameron’s follow-up to his 2009 epic has been gestating for years now, and as rumors continue to surface surrounding the new film, it seems it may have a lot in common with Aquaman 2. Much has been made of the film’s lengthy underwater sequences, which are genuinely filmed underwater. Whereas Aquaman relied on complex CGI and rig technology, Avatar 2 required its actors to perform motion-capture at surprising underwater depths. Kate Winslet, who plays a new character in the sequel, even broke Tom Cruise’s record for an underwater scene.
Because Avatar 2 can lay claim to such a bold, ambitious approach to filmmaking, it is likely to overshadow Aquaman 2 and any other film that dares to rival it in the final quarter of 2022. And not only that, but the thematic parallels of magical underwater kingdoms and a “fish-out-of-water” narrative focus draw Aquaman and Avatar 2 too close together. Cameron’s ambition is what made the first Avatar film such a smash hit both at the box office and during awards season, and is largely why the sequel remains so highly anticipated. Unlike its predecessor, Aquaman 2 will not be able to rely on the uniqueness of its underwater setting, and may therefore have to consider a later release date for its own sake.
There is no doubt that Aquaman 2 will provide plenty of impressive imagery, but its computerized nature may seem glaring when compared with the authenticity of Avatar 2. Certainly, Warner Bros. could welcome this challenge from Disney, who only recently acquired the Avatar franchise after purchasing 20th Century Fox, but seeking out another release slot into 2023 – and perhaps the summer season – would be a far smarter move. Particularly as Disney is likely to treat Avatar as its next big sci-fi franchise and invest heavily to cover the huge costs of making Cameron’s sequels.
Next: Avatar 2’s Record-Breaking Underwater Scenes Can Beat Original’s 3D Magic
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