James Cameron is no stranger to recutting his own movies, but it seems like Avatar: The Way of Water won’t be getting that treatment, despite rumors to the contrary. While Avatar 2 has dominated the box office since its Dec. 16 release, producer Jon Landau says theater-going audiences are seeing the definitive version of the film.
One of the inciting incidents for these rumors came from Cameron himself, saying how he’d like to make two versions of a movie in the future, a streaming version that runs six hours, and a theatrical version that’s closer to two hours. But Landau has some clarification for that too, along with updates on an Avatar 2 director’s cut.
“I think Jim is seizing on opportunities for other stories with two different cuts — the idea would be that you build a larger, epic narrative that can last six hours, and you pull a two-and-a-half-hour movie out of it,” Landau told Polygon in an interview. As for The Way of Water or 2024’s Avatar 3 getting extended cuts, Landau simply said, “We don’t have the amount of content to do that.”
Considering Avatar: The Way of Water is such an effects-driven movie, it’s no surprise that there aren’t a ton of superfluous scenes that add to the movie. And anything additional that hasn’t already been worked on by the film’s CGI team would like take a lot of time and money to produce. On top of that, Avatar 2 is already a pretty long movie, clocking in at three hours and 12 minutes, so an extended cut would get awfully close to the typical length of a miniseries.
But just because the Avatar 2 director’s cut rumors have been squashed, that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from spinning up on the third movie already. According to Jeff Sneider on The Hot Mic podcast, Cameron handed in a nine-hour rough cut of Avatar 3 and asked for Disney to complete every VFX shot so that he could edit a complete picture. Even if that’s true, it seems highly unlikely that the final version of the third movie would clock in anywhere close to that, it is an interesting rumor that could certainly lend fuel to a future “release the Cameron Cut” fire.
Adding to this fuel is Cameron’s own history with director’s cuts, including Aliens, where he added back in some critical scenes, which add backstory for protagonist Ripley and help tie the rest of the movie together. But given Cameron’s track record of success, and Avatar: The Way of Water seemingly poised to take a run at the all-time box office crown, it’s hard to imagine anyone’s questioning James Cameron too much at this point.