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James Cameron making Avatar sequels out of spite makes much more sense than the truth

20th Century Fox & Earth Day Network's 'Avatar' Tree Planting Event
James Cameron.
Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

By now, the screenshot has probably appeared in your Twitter timeline. It appears to be an excerpt from an interview with Avatar director James Cameron, in which Cameron unashamedly admits to planning the four recently announced Avatar sequels out of sheer spite:

Someone showed me a tweet by this woman Dana something. Dana Smith? And it was, I’m paraphrasing here, but basically something along the lines of see how many of you can name one character or one line of dialogue from Avatar. And the implication was that nobody could, because the film, despite making a lot of money, didn’t make a huge impression on people. So I got my team together and showed them this tweet and said, you know, what do we do about this. And we came up with a lot of ideas, just kinda put everything on the table. But the one we kept returning to was making four Avatar sequels instead of just the one we were planning. The idea being that if we had five Avatar movies spanning, you know, two decades or whatever, and people were constantly being bombarded with Avatar from every direction, something would have to stick. So really, it all started with a tweet. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it.

"I have no idea if this is accurate, but I HOPE it is," is the sentiment that typically accompanies this screenshot whenever someone shares it. And so it is with the deepest regret that I must crush everyone's dreams and inform you that it is not, in fact, accurate. It's a joke.

The tweet the screenshot is referring to does exist. It's by the comedy writer Dana Schwartz, and it went viral shortly after she wrote it in December 2015.

So when Cameron revealed at CinemaCon on Thursday that he's planning four sequels to Avatar instead of the three that he's discussed in the past — and just a few months after Schwartz's joke about Avatar's cultural irrelevance went viral — the timing was too funny to pass up.

Schwartz is blaming pop culture writer Chris Scott for the hoax.

She is also embracing it with deep delight.

Sadly, Cameron's official reasons for more Avatar sequels are much less entertaining. "We began to bump up against the limitations for our art form," he said, explaining that his original plan for three sequels was too restricting and that he needed more space for the "epic saga" he has in mind.

We’ve hit peak lens flare. Here’s how it started.