Production on James Cameron’s Avatar sequels has been halted in New Zealand due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking to The New Zealand Herald, producer Jon Landau confirmed that the crew had postponed production ahead of a block of shoots in Wellington’s Stone Street Studios, scheduled for April, while Wellington-based VFX company Weta Digital continues to work on the sequels amid the current hiatus.
“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,” Landau told the outlet. “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.”
Landau explained that he couldn’t give a timeframe for when filming in New Zealand would resume, but confirmed that he and Cameron would be reassessing the production schedule on a daily basis “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 said, adding how it had now become a priority to get “as many minutes” of VFX work sent across to Weta Digital to enable the team to progress with their digital effects tasks while the main production is paused.
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Disney is expected to release a new Avatar movie every other year between December 2021 and December 2027, all of which will continue the story of Jake Sully, the Na’vi and the other heroes of Pandora.
While the Avatar sequels are put on hold and join a growing list of TV and movie productions on hiatus, there are a number of important things that you can do to help, and stay safe, during the Coronavirus pandemic.