Although James Cameron has been known to recut his films in the past, it does not seem that he will be doing so with Avatar: The Way of Water. This is despite persistent reports to the contrary. Even though Avatar 2 has been dominating the box office since its premiere on December 16, producer Jon Landau believes that the version of the picture that is now playing in theatres is the definitive one.
Cameron comments that he would like to make two versions of a movie in the future, one with a runtime of six hours that would be available for streaming, and the other with a runtime that would be closer to two hours and be shown in theatres, were one of the factors that contributed to the spread of these rumours. However, Landau has some clarity for that as well, along with developments about a director's edit of Avatar 2 that will be released.
"I believe Jim is jumping on the potential for other tales with two distinct cuts," Landau said in an interview with Polygon. "The concept would be that you develop a broader, epic narrative that can run six hours, and you take a two-and-a-half-hour movie out of it." Regarding the possibility of expanded versions of The Way of Water or Avatar 3, which is scheduled to be released in 2024, Landau simply said, "We don't have the quantity of stuff to achieve that."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that there aren't a lot of unnecessary sequences that contribute to the narrative of Avatar: The Way of Water since it is such an effects-driven movie like Avatar: The Last Airbender. In addition, the production of anything else that the computer graphics (CGI) team working on the movie hasn't previously worked on will need a significant amount of time and resources. Avatar 2 is already a rather lengthy film, coming in at three hours and 12 minutes, so an extended edit would approach uncomfortably near to the normal length of a miniseries if it were made. On top of that, the movie will be released in 3D.
However, even though reports about a director's cut of Avatar 2 have been dispelled, the rumour mill has already begun to speculate about the third instalment of the franchise. According to an interview that Jeff Sneider gave on the podcast The Hot Mic, James Cameron reportedly sent in a nine-hour rough cut of Avatar 3 and requested Disney to finish every visual effect shot so that he could edit a finished film. It is an intriguing rumour that could certainly lend fuel to a future "release the Cameron Cut" fire, but even if that is true, it seems highly unlikely that the final version of the third movie would clock in anywhere near that. Even so, it is highly unlikely that the final version of the third movie would clock in anywhere close to that.
Cameron's past with director's edits, like Aliens, where he reinstated several crucial sequences that supplied context for the heroine Ripley and helped tie the rest of the movie together, adds gasoline to the fire. However, considering Cameron's history of accomplishments and the fact that Avatar: The Way of Water is reportedly on pace to challenge Titanic for the title of most grossing film of all time, it's difficult to picture anybody casting too many doubts about James Cameron at this point.