Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll know that director James Cameron has long been working on a sequel to Avatar, which was released all the way back in 2009. The original was a juggernaut at the box office, smashing records and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, a title which (including several re-releases) it retains to this day.

A sequel, then, makes sense – though Cameron has outlined he has ideas for a total of four sequels, and Avatar 3 and 4 have been in development for some time. For now, though, all the focus is on Avatar: The Way of Water, which is now set to finally arrive this year on 16th December.

Excitement hit a fever pitch earlier this year when The Way of the Water finally materialised earlier this year with a poster and teaser trailer, giving us a first glimpse of the long-awaited return to Pandora. The sequel sees several of the stars of the first return, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver (playing a different character to the first), Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore and Dileep Rao. Newcomers to the franchise include Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Vin Diesel, and Kate Winslet, who of course played Rose in Cameron’s 1997 monster hit Titanic.

The film’s plot has mostly been kept secret – but we do know that it’s set more than a decade after the first film, and tells the story of the Sully family, and the trials and tribulations that they have to overcome, working together to keep each other safe. Sigourney Weaver mentioned in an interview with Variety that the film is “about family”, and draws on Cameron’s life experiences and his own family and children.

One of the biggest reasons for the sequel’s long development is that Cameron has been waiting for advances in technology to achieve the story he wants to tell – the original film created a huge buzz over its innovative 3D effects and the immersive world it created. The new instalment, as the title implies, is set to feature extensive underwater sequences, and Cameron was waiting for the right tools to be able to use motion capture underwater.

The trailer, released back in May, offered a glimpse of the sparkling vistas that await- as did the re-release of the first film back in September, which was remastered for modern cinemas. One of the most expensive films of all time with a budget of $250 million, it’s likely to be another huge hit – and you can find out what’s next for Pandora when the film launches in just a few more weeks.

Avatar: The Way of the Water releases on 16th December in UK cinemas

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