Avatar: The Way of Water: All Filming Locations Revealed (With Images)

As we’re getting closer to the release of the Avatar sequel which is coming out on December 16 we’re interested in more info about the project and how it was made. This epic science fiction movie made its debut in 2009 and ever since then, we have been in love with its universe. The details of this project were a well-hidden secret until recent years. Now with the release nearing, we’re getting more insight into the process of filming as well as the locations involved. Having said that, where was Avatar: The Way of Water filmed?

Avatar: The Way of Water has been mostly filmed in the United States. The main shooting location was on Manhattan Beach in California and then a good portion of the shooting was also done in New Zealand, Wellington.

Now that we know the main filming locations, it’s time to analyze the details related to other aspects of the movie. If you’re interested and want to know more about the process of filming one of the biggest sci-fi movies ever made, stay with us and keep reading!

Where was Avatar: The Way of Water filmed?

The preliminary shoot and testing started back in 2017, and from there it had its roadblocks on the way. The first testing was done in a small water tank since most of the story is happening underwater. This took place over the course of a few months, and after that, the team would move on to a bigger water tank that contained around 900 000 gallons of water.

The first challenge that the project faced was performance capture underwater. Even though we’ve come very far with film technology we still have a lot of progress to make. The director, James Cameron described how difficult the process of blending underwater filming is:

“It’s never been done before and it’s very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras. The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and …”

He goes on to say: “it creates thousands of false targets, so we’ve had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did. … It’s taken us about a year and a half now to work out how we’re going to do it.

Avatar: The Way of Water
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MBS Media Campus

This is where most of the film was shot and made. The MBS Media Campus is located in Manhattan Beach, California. It was built in 1999 by Shamrock Holdings of California for the Roy E. Disney family. MBS Media Campus is one of the industry’s newest, largest, and most structurally and technologically advanced production lots.

MBS Media Campus

It has a 22-acre studio campus with 15 sound stages, totaling 385,000 square feet. Designed and constructed for optimal production efficiency, the stages have contiguous access to their production offices and support spaces.

Wellington, New Zealand

In 2017 it was announced that Weta Digital had started to work on Avatar: The Way of Water. This is where they developed a new motion capture system. Weta Digital is a New Zealand digital visual effects company based in Miramar, Wellington.

Avatar: The Way of Water filming in New Zealand

It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures. Considered one of the most influential film companies of the 21st century, Wētā FX has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.

Why did Avatar 2 take so long to film?

The reason for this was that James Cameron had to put the work for the Avatar movies aside while he was occupied working on another movie called Alita: Batlle Angel that came out in 2019. With that came along technological difficulties regarding the complexities of the second Avatar movie. Since the story of the film is set underwater, they had to create a new type of motion capture system which took about a year and a half to develop.

RELATED: How Long Did It Take to Make Avatar? (& What About Sequels?)

There was one more frequently asked question regarding the movie and it’s why is it so long. The running time for Avatar: The Way of Water is going to be 190 minutes long, which is three hours and ten minutes altogether.

Cameron has a pretty funny response to this comment, he said: “I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours… I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.

Where was Avatar 3 filmed?

The only filming location that was revealed so far related to the third Avatar movie is the Weta Digital company in New Zealand. Cameron was working on the third movie simultaneously with the second one. Cameron said that during that time they filmed ninety-five percent of the third movie. We have yet to see if this will be the only location for the upcoming Avatar 3, most likely it will have more locations to add to the list.

  • Petra enjoys watching everything from reality TV shows to fourteen-hour-long independent films with a non-conventional structure. Through studying at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb she found her passion for writing and she's excited to learn more about it as time goes on.