The gorgeous planet of Pandora may be 4.37 light-years away from Earth, but in no way has that hindered the Coronavirus from silver-surfing across galaxies in order to have a bite at the Na’vi. James Cameron’s Avatar sequels have indeed suffered a setback as filming in New Zealand has been brought to a halt following concerns of the viral outbreak.
Producer Jon Landau recently spoke to the New Zealand Herald, stating that the delay on a segment of production right now is indefinite.
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. 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.
The producer then added that the production of Avatar will instead be concentrated on visual effects work at Weta Digital. He further added that the situation will be monitored and the best interests of the “Avatar family will be considered”.
An anonymous crew member for the sequels also told The Herald that everything was still “up in the air.”
We got an email today regarding what you’re saying but we haven’t had anything confirmed yet. They’ve just sent us something saying there could be troubles ahead. But nothing concrete… The production is very supportive of us. We’re not being laid off, it’s on hold, so they’re still committed to shooting it here as far as I know.
Other shoots in the region have also been called off temporarily. These include Amazon’s TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the RIngs, Marvel Studio’s Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, and Baz Luhrmann’s biopic on Elvis Presley – which hit a snag due to its star, Tom Hanks, contracting the virus.
The four Avatar sequels are being developed by Landau and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment with the first two sequels being targeted to be finished by the end of 2020. In this tumult, it is difficult to discern whether these projects will be able to meet their marks as the rates of postponed productions continue to snowball. Pandora’s Box is now open, and it ain’t so pretty for the industry.