Avatar: The Way of Water was an incredibly expensive undertaking for Disney and 20th Century Studios, though it certainly ended up paying off for them.
James Cameron said the sequel would have to earn upwards of $2 billion to turn a profit, and it did exactly that, ensuring the franchise will continue (whatever happened, Avatar 3 was already shot and on the way, but the filmmaker has plans for fourth and fifth instalments). However, it appears he found a way to save at least some money along the way.
As you can see in the video below (via SFFGazette.com), a handful of CG scenes from Avatar were essentially painted over and re-used for The Way of Water.
While key details are changed - such as Jake Sully's face paint and the beast he's riding into battle - there's no difference between each shot of the character. There were a few occasions where that happened, and motion capture was also recycled for Zoe Saldaña's Neytiri.
It's hard to say why Cameron didn't just shoot new material, but it could be that this existing content sufficed for what they needed. Ultimately, this probably saved more time than it did money and may well have been down to a lack of talent access due to the pandemic.
As noted, our return to the world of Pandora last year proved to be both a commercial and critical smash hit, and the sequel quickly became the third highest-grossing film of all time behind only Avatar and Avengers: Endgame after earning over $2.3 billion worldwide. The movie also received four Academy Award nominations, including "Best Picture."
There's still no news on a Blu-ray release date, meaning the only way to watch Avatar: The Way of Water at home for the time being will be to buy it on Digital platforms. That also means we can expect to wait even longer for the sequel's highly anticipated Disney+ debut.
As for Avatar 3, that's been shot and is currently set to be released in theaters on December 20, 2024.
3 small scenes being reused.
by u/BecauseJimmy in Avatar