What to know about Avatar: The Way of Water, releasing in December 2022: Vin Diesel, Kate Winslet and Michelle Yeoh will join the cast of James Cameron’s hotly awaited sequel

Avatar: The Way of Water will release in December 2022. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Avatar: The Way of Water will take place over a decade after the events of the first movie, and as the name suggests, a lot of the movie will be set underwater.

While we will have to wait until the movie opens in theatres on December 16, here’s what we do know about it so far …

The sequel takes place over a decade after the events of the first Avatar

Sam Worthington in Avatar (2009). Photo: 20th Century Fox

Director James Cameron has been discussing a sequel to Avatar ever since the original film opened in 2009 and became the highest-grossing movie of all time (Avengers: Endgame took the title in 2019).

Avatar: The Way of Water will revisit Avatar’s cast over a decade after the first film. Photo: 20th Century Fox

The powerful sci-fi movie is set on a faraway moon called Pandora and follows human Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as he befriends the natives (called the Na’vi) by using a genetically engineered Na’vi body.

Avatar: The Way of Water will focus on Jake Sully, Neytiri and their new family. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Now, the sequel picks up over a decade later and will focus on Sully, his lover Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their new family.

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Many of the original castmates are returning

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña will of course be returning as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Photos: Getty Images/AFP, Invision/AP

Along with Worthington and Saldaña returning for the sequel, we’ll also see Giovanni Ribisi, who was the lead corporate administrator of the human-mining project on Pandora in the first movie.

Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dr. Grace Augustine, died in Avatar (2009), but the actress will return as a new character in the sequel. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Two actors whose characters died in the first movie will also be returning. Sigourney Weaver, who played Dr. Grace Augustine, is coming back, but not playing the same character.

Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar (2009). Photo: 20th Century Fox

Stephen Lang, who played the villain Colonel Miles Quaritch, is also getting a second chance.

But there are also newcomers

Avatar: The Way of Water will mostly be set – you guessed it – on or underwater. Photo: 20th Century Fox
Kate Winslet will be teaming up with Cameron for the first time since she starred in his other major blockbuster hit, 1997’s Titanic.
Behind the scene shots of Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Zoe Saldaña and Sam Worthington in Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). Photo: IMDB

Winslet is set to play a free diver named Ronal, one of the Na’vi who inhabits the waters of Pandora called Metkayina.

Cliff Curtis (Blow, Training Day, Whale Rider) will play Tonowari, the leader of the Metkayina.

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Edie Falco and Michelle Yeoh have been cast for live-action roles.

And Vin Diesel said in a 2019 Instagram post that he will also be joining the cast. However, there are no details yet on who he will play.

Water will be a major theme of the sequel

Avatar: The Way of Water will explore the waters of Pandora, a faraway moon. Photo: 20th Century Fox

As the title suggests, we’re going to see more of what goes on below the surface of Pandora in the sequel.

Avatar: The Way of Water will feature Na’vi who live in the waters of Pandora, called Metkayina. Photo: 20th Century Fox

To pull off these scenes, a massive 900,000-gallon performance-capture tank was built in New Zealand for the sequels.

Kate Winslet filming underwater in Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). Photo: 20th Century Fox

Back in 2020, Winslet, told The Hollywood Reporter that she had to hold her breath for more than seven minutes to do the underwater scenes.

Like the first movie, the technology used to make Avatar: The Way of Water is groundbreaking

According to producer Jon Landau, the team uses “performance capture for things that are both big and small”. Photo: @jonplandau/Instagram

Along with filming underwater, Cameron and the special effects team at Weta Digital developed a motion-capture underwater system to capture the performances. The equipment has never been used before this movie and took a year and a half to develop.

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And, like the first movie, Cameron plans the push the boundaries of 3D to present “the most immersive 3D available”, he said at 2022 CinemaCon via a video message.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) will feature “the most immersive 3D available”, said director James Cameron. Photo: 20th Century Fox

“We’re pushing those limits even further, with 3D with high dynamic range, with high frame rate, higher resolution, and a much greater reality in our visual effects,” he said.

All the sequels will be stand-alone films

The producer of Avatar, Jon Landau. Photo: @jonplandau/Instagram

Also at 2022 CinemaCon, Avatar franchise producer Jon Landau gave some insight into how the sequels will be told, noting that they will all be stand-alone stories – meaning each sequel will have a finality to them.

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña (right) as Jake Sully and Neytiri respectively in Avatar (2009). Photo: 20th Century Fox

However, the family that Sully and Neytiri have formed will be a common thread throughout them all.

The first teaser trailer came out in May

While it was initially shown in 3D in cinemas in the US before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness during the Marvel movie’s opening weekend in May, it has since been released online. But regardless of what format you see it in, the visuals are breathtaking.

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Avatar: The Way of Water hits cinemas on December 16

Avatar: The Way of Water will release on December 16 Photo: @jonplandau/Instagram

Here are the dates for the third, fourth and fifth instalments in the franchise:

  • Avatar 3 – December 20, 2024

  • Avatar 4 – December 18, 2026

  • Avatar 5 – December 22, 2028

This article originally appeared on Insider
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  • The new film is the first in a string of four planned sequels to Avatar (2009) and will feature the same mind-blowing 3D effects and groundbreaking technology
  • Winslet is working with Cameron for the first time since 90s blockbuster Titanic; Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña will reprise their roles as Jake Sully and Neytiri too