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'Avatar: The Way of Water' trusts in Pandora's oceans for protection with final trailer

The sequel, more than a decade in the making, arrives on the big screen Dec. 16.

By Josh Weiss
A still from James Cameron's AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER.

The vibrantly blue oceans of Pandora are Jake and Neytiri's only hope in the final trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water. As humans return to the mineral-rich planet with a vengeance, the beleaguered parents (once again played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, respectively) must flee the lush jungles and turn to the seaside Metkayina clan for help.

The family is graciously accepted into this maritime culture, but must first adapt to its customs, which includes learning how to ride and bond with various aquatic fauna. It's something that'll come in handy when the interstellar interlopers (led by Stephen Lang's Colonel Miles Quaritch) wade into the waters of war and get more than they bargained for when alien whales start belly-flopping onto their ships.

Trying to follow on the heels of the highest-grossing movie in Hollywood history more than a decade after the fact is no small feat, but Disney (releasing the sequel under its 20th Century Studios banner next month) hopes to drum up plenty of excitement by touting The Way of Water as a momentous and generation-defining cinematic event.

Watch the final trailer below:

The film's ensemble cast also includes Sigourney Weaver, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kate Winslet.

After enjoying sole script duties on the 2009 original, Cameron — who produced the film alongside his usual cinematic collaborator, Jon Landau — shares screenplay credit with Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-writers, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The screen story hails from Cameron, Jaffa, Silver, Josh Friedman, and Shane Salerno. David Valdes and Richard Baneham serve as executive producers.

With a massive budget of around $250 million (not including marketing), The Way of Water has to shatter all sorts of box office records just to break even. Whether it can even come close to the nearly $3 billion in ticket sales of the first movie remains to be seen. Thanks to the streaming revolution and a global health crisis, the theatrical marketplace has wildly changed over the last 13 years. If this follow-up tanks financially upon its December opening, Cameron is ready to scrap his plans for a five-movie saga and end the story as a trilogy.

Avatar: The Way of Water hits the big screen Friday, Dec. 16.

Looking for more high concept science fiction? Jordan Peele's Nope is exclusively streaming on Peacock.