In the years since its release, Avatar has become somewhat of a punching bag. It blew a lot of minds, made a ton of money, and set records all over the world that still haven't been broken, but it also didn't leave a Star Wars-sized dent on the pop-culture consciousness. Kids don't dress up like Na'vi at Halloween. Toy-store aisles aren't overflowing with giant blue aliens. It's a movie that conquered, but then didn't really seem to convert.
Part of the reason for that is Avatar just didn't merchandise itself nearly as much as Star Wars or superhero movies, but another big reason is that it came out over six years ago and we still haven't gotten a sequel to it. James Cameron has announced franchise plans a number of times, but they never pan out. Most recently he had assembled a team of writers to create three sequels, which would start in Christmas of 2017 and then hit every year after.
Now Cameron has scrapped that plan entirely. He just announced at CinemaCon, a big exhibition where studios get movie theater owners hyped up about new releases, that there will now be four sequels, they will be released every other year, and that plan will start Christmas of 2018. So now we have a longer wait, but even more movies promised.
Cameron showed some concept art at the event as well, which confirmed that at least one of the movies will be set largely in the underwater parts of Pandora, and clarified that while these are all part of an overall epic, each of the movies will tell its own story.
It's an ambitious plan to say the least, but if anyone can pull it off, it's James Cameron. If anything, Fox's willingness to continually delay the project until Cameron says it's ready proves just how much faith the studio has in the writer-director. Plus, this new release strategy may prove wisest since it means Avatar will no longer be directly competing with the main episodes in the new Star Wars series, which would have been the case had they stuck to the 2017 plan.
Now we just have to wait and see if any of this actually happens this time.