James Cameron Filmed Avatar Sequels Back to Back to Avoid the 'Stranger Things Effect'

"You get the Stranger Things effect where they're supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they're 27"

James Cameron reveals he filmed all the “Avatar” sequels back to back to avoid a common industry pitfall.

He was averting what he called the “Stranger Things effect,” to describe the eventual growth spurt of child actors in multi-year projects. The 68-year-old director shared that the second, third and first half of the fourth movie was filmed at one time.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cameron recalled how child actors Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, who was cast at age seven and is now 13, was rapidly aging out of her role as Tuk while Jack Champion, cast as Spider at age 12 now 18, was “growing like a weed.”

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“Otherwise, you get — and I love Stranger Things — but you get the Stranger Things effect where they’re supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they’re 27,” he continued. “You know, I love the show. It’s okay, we’ll suspend disbelief. We like the characters, but, you know.”

Though filming three films at once may seem like an overwhelming task, stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña claimed that no part of the filming process felt rushed or unorganized in any way.

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“We did read-throughs, we discussed extensively where we were, we defined those beats that distinguished 2 from 3,” Saldaña explained. “So from where I was standing, I never felt that it was uncomfortable or anything, but that just has to do with the amount of time that we took in preparation for this.”

She continued, “Jim makes you a part of the whole process and hears you. Every need that you have, he takes great attention to that detail and tries to the best of his ability to accommodate and incorporate your input.”

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is now playing in theaters while the third installment in the franchise is expected to premiere on Dec. 20, 2024.


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