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Avatar 2 pulled from Christmas, 2017 release date

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar

Back at the start of 2015 came the news that James Cameron had opted to delay the release of Avatar 2 by a year. Kicking off a new trilogy, it would now arrive at Christmas, 2017 instead of Christmas, 2016. Exactly 12 months later, Avatar 2 has shifted its release date again. It now definitely won't arrive at the end of next year, and this time there's no indication of when it'll surface instead.

All indications recently had been that Avatar 2 was on track. Studio Fox are remaining tight-lipped on the situation, however, so no official update on the sequel or its futher two developing follow-ups has been forthcoming.

It may appear that Avatar has simply blinked first in a stare-off with Star Wars, which looks to be claiming Christmas in perpetuity. The Wrap, however, speculate that Star Wars: Episode VIII's move into its new December, 2017 slot has actually been prompted by Avatar 2's disappearance: that Christmas release is now another safe bet for Disney, where it might have shied away from the competition before. The Force Awakens, remember, despite its record-breaking-all-conquering success, has yet to beat Avatar's worldwide box office haul. Avatar 2 repeating that business is far from assured though. Either way, Fox's loss is certainly Disney's gain.

"Expectations are going to be very high on these films," said Cameron recently, "especially on Avatar 2, to make sure it wasn’t just some big fluke the first time. So we’ve got to deliver. I’ve created a nice rod for my own back, so they say." Clearly the decision has been made that the extra time investment in the development is essential.

"Cameron," Fox CEO Jim Gianapolous said last summer, "moves at his own pace..."