James Cameron suspends production on Avatar sequels

The Oscar-winning director had planned to film at studios in Wellington next month.

James Cameron has suspended production on his Avatar sequels in New Zealand.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Oscar-winning director to halt filming indefinitely, producer Jon Landau confirmed to the New Zealand Herald.

Landau said they were due to shoot footage for the four sequels to the 2009 sci-fi movie at Stone Street Studios in the city of Wellington next month, but have decided to stay in Los Angeles instead.

"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 (in Los Angeles), and come down there a little bit later than we'd planned," Landau said.

"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 curve."

Staff at visual effects firm Weta Digital, which is based in Wellington, will continue to work on the sequels during the shutdown.

It's not yet known when filming will start up again, but Landau insisted he and Cameron are assessing the production schedule "everyday, because that's how quickly things change."

"We try and monitor all this and look at things and think about what is in the best interest of our crew. I call it our Avatar family. That is really paramount to us above anything," he explained.

Avatar 2, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, and Sigourney Weaver, is due to be released in December 2021, with three more sequels slated to hit cinemas in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

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