Filming on James Cameron’s long-in-the-works Avatar sequels has been suspended in New Zealand due to coronavirus.
Producer Jon Landau told the New Zealand Herald, “We’ve delayed it. We had plans to come down Friday night with a group of people and start back up and we made the decision to hold off and continue working here [Los Angeles], and come down there a little bit later than we’d planned.”
“If I told you we are going to know something in two weeks I’d be lying. I might not be wrong – even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I would be lying because I don’t know…We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the [coronavirus] curve.”
Weta will continue to work on the visual effects.
Cameron and Landau’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment have been working on four mega-budget Avatar sequels, with both Avatar 2 and 3 originally due to finish filming this spring.
Earlier this year, release dates were announced for each film: Avatar 2 on December 17, 2021; Avatar 3 on December 2023, Avatar 4 on December 2025, and Avatar 5 on December 2027.
2009’s Avatar is the second highest-grossing film of all time at $2.79B. We have reached out to Disney for comment.
As of Tuesday, New Zealand had recorded 12 confirmed coronavirus cases. The country has moved swiftly, requiring all new arrivals to the country to quarantine for 14 days.
Film and TV production has shut down the world over in response to the outbreak. Major movies are on hiatus in the U.S., UK, Europe and Asia. Major movies are also being pushed back from their spring release dates. AMC today announced that it would shutter its U.S. theaters for between six-12 weeks.