James Cameron Doesn’t Want You to “Whine” About How Long “Avatar 2” Will Be

The director wants to normalize theater pee breaks during three-hour movies

A scene from James Cameron's "Avatar" featuring two Na'vi. The director says he doesn't want viewers to "whine" about how long Avatar 2 is.
"Avatar: The Way of Water" is scheduled to hit theaters in December.
20th Century Fox

Director James Cameron has not historically been known for brevity. Titanic clocks in at three hours and 14 minutes and Avatar features a runtime of two hours and 42 minutes. His forthcoming sequel to the latter, Avatar: The Way of the Water, will reportedly run roughly three hours. In a recent interview with Empire, the director insists that fans should be able to sit through the lengthy movie without any complaints.

Cameron argued that folks who are able to binge-watch a TV show for hours on end should be able to cope with his movie’s long runtime.

“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” he said. “I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a f—— break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row.”

The problem with that argument? Binging several one-hour episodes of television in a row in the comfort of your own home is not at all the same thing as sitting through a three-hour movie in a theater. For one, TV episodes have their own individual narrative arcs; even if you decide to blow through all of them at once, they’re designed to stand on their own, which means they’ve got a clear beginning, middle and end, and you’re less likely to get bored than you would watching one continuous story stretch out over the course of three-plus hours. And even when we binge a TV series, we’re able to take breaks as needed. But Cameron envisions a future in which moviegoers feel free to take a break in the middle of a film.

“Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee,” he said.

It’s already “okay” to get up and go pee during a movie in that no one’s going to yell at you or have you thrown out of the theater for quietly dipping out for a few minutes to relieve yourself. But you can’t pause a movie when you’re watching it in a theater, and stepping out to go pee means missing at least a few minutes of the action. It’s easy enough to hold it for an hour and a half, but three hours is another thing entirely. Our bladders can only take so much.

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