James Cameron on ‘Avatar’ Sequels & Their Real-World Themes

Published 8 months ago by

Avatar Jake and Neytiri1 James Cameron on Avatar Sequels & Their Real World Themes

James Cameron’s Avatar remains, after breaking the record five years ago, the highest-grossing movie of all time. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the director has three sequels in pre-production (with a rumored collective budget of $1 billion) and is preparing to shoot them all back-to-back, with leads Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington reprising their roles as lovers and freedom fighters Jake Sully and Neytiri.

Whether the thought of Avatar 2, Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 has you jumping for joy or just feeling very tired, the next few chapters of Cameron’s epic sci-fi saga are nonetheless going to be barrelling their way into theaters starting from December 2016. The first film, as many of its critics noted, reiterated the themes of imperialism and racism that were also central to movies like Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves, and you can bet that Cameron has a whole lot still left to say about real world issues through a story about 10-foot tall blue aliens.

In fact, Cameron himself has given his assurance that the fantastical nature of Avatar‘s world won’t prevent him from including Real Talk in Avatar 2-4. Little is known about the plots of the movies so far, aside from the fact that the oceans of Pandora will be explored using groundbreaking underwater filming techniques (Cameron is a fan of life under the sea), but speaking to Variety the director strongly hinted that moviegoers can expect to see more real world issues crop up.

“There’s nothing I need to say as an artist about the state of the world and human affairs that I can’t do through the lens of the ‘Avatar’ universe. We’ve had a couple of years to think through the story arc of the next three films, and every day that goes by, I believe in the stories I’m telling more and more. We’re not coming out of the block fast to capitalize on the last film.”

The latter part of Cameron’s statement is certainly true; by the time Avatar 2 is released, a full seven years will have passed since the release of the original film, but after that a new Avatar sequel will hit theaters every year until 2018.

James Cameron Used TV Experience to Write Avatar Scripts James Cameron on Avatar Sequels & Their Real World Themes

Cameron made the statement in the context of a profile piece about Fox chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who is described by Cameron and other directors as being very willing to get involved into the artistic side of filming as well as the business side. Whether you love Avatar or hate it, there’s no denying that the filmmaking techniques created for the film – most prominently the performance capture technology that has since been used to great effect in films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – has helped changed the landscape of cinema, and Gianopulos says that this will only continue in the sequels.

“We know it’s going to be a long journey. We know it’s not going to be cheap. We know it’s not going to be without new discoveries and new challenges in the process of producing something that is so beyond the normal form of filmmaking and technology, but what could be more exciting than that.”

Avatar pushed a lot of boundaries, if not necessarily in the story that was told then at least in the way that it was told, and with three sequels still to come and a story arc spanning all of them it will be interesting to see what Cameron has planned next for this universe. One thing is certain: if the Avatar sequels are as successful as the first film, then they may well end up dominating the face of cinema within the next few years.

Avatar 2 is set for release in December 2016, with Avatar 3 and Avatar 4 following in 2017 and 2018.

Source: Variety (via SlashFilm)

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I really hope he’s not so busy playing with all his new toys, that he forgets to write and direct a decent story, as was the case with avatar.

    • Si! Bueno.

    • Well, Avatar had one of the best possible story…

      • Avatar had a good story? Humans bad and aliens good? Development/industrialization bad and nature good? It was dumbed down, simplistic story.

        • Yeah, it was basically an over-the-top version of ‘Ferngully’ . But hey it made $ 2 Billion at the box office, so my opinion doesn’t count.

          • I believe all the hype about the movie, at the time, was that it was state-of-the art technically and visually, and that is why it made so much money. I don’t recall anyone recounting the story as a reason to see it. Thus, it will not likely stand the test of time. Fifty years from now, it will just be known as the movie that made the most money back in 2009.

            • Yeah, the promotion was all about “wow, look, this new thing called 3D and it looks amazing” while completely forgetting the previous 50 or so years of 3D viewing.

              I avoided it because it looked like the kinda of cutscene graphics I’d watch on video game consoles and then when I saw the film on TV the next Christmas, I got through the first hour and a half and wondered why it was dragging on so much while realising it was only midway through the Ferngully/Dances With Wolves hybrid of a story.

              Made me wonder why so many people had paid so much money to see the film repeatedly when once was more than enough for me. It’s one of those films you instantly regret watching the moment the end credits begin.

              • Actually the story was that this was the first movie filmed with 3d cameras without post conversion. It was ground breaking. Even 5 years later almost every 3d movie post converts. Stop hating

        • Avatar’s script left something to be desired but it wasn’t as insipid or pointless as trash like Guardians of the Galaxy that dominates the box office now.

          • …but as someone alluded to below, at least movies like GOTG are not pretending to be something that they aren’t. Cameron conveys like his movies “enlighten” us to the human condition. Ah…no.

            • So your problem with Avatar wasn’t that it was too stupid, it’s that it wasn’t stupid enough? You like your stupid movies to be full on boneheaded, is that it?

              • Oh, it was “full on boneheaded” to me, as well as others. It was just wrapped up in a multi-million dollar package.

        • Get off it like you can do better! Lol! I have seen worst and I’m sure you have too! AVATAR may have some weak points & areas but there’s no such thing as a perfect film!

          With that being said… AVATAR may not be perfect but it was EPIC if you ask me!

          Nuff said.

    • It could have been better in the story department sure,but overall it wasn’t the worst either.visually still holds up even now.

  2. I hope they use better cameras this time around. The few live action elements in Avatar looked pretty shoddy. Almost like consumer camera footage.

  3. Everyone is waiting for the article titled “Avatar 2 begins principal photography”..but at this point, it seems like Cameron enjoys talking about unmade movies more than making them..

  4. White men and military bad, natives and nature good…

    • I added my interpretation of the film above before reading yours, which is essentially the same. I thought Avatar was a visual masterpiece, but the story was as simplistic and stupid as a movie could get.

      • Simplistic? Yes. Stupid? No. Unless you count an allegorical sci-fi story that is based on actual and very current incidents and that need to stop – i.e. genocide and the relentless destruction of irreplacable nature for valuable resources – as “stupid”.

        • Biodome was about protecting the environment and about individuality. Stupid is still stupid.

        • So, there’s people out there today committing genocide for energy? Perverted religious beliefs, yes. Relentless destruction of irreplacable nature for valuable resources? Perhaps in some parts of the world. I have no problem, however, with clean and efficient use of all natural resources to benefit humankind. Because Cameron’s story was so simplistic, I feel it was stupid.

      • “Simplistic and stupid as a movie could get”? Have you seen Avengers? It’s literally about a bunch of aliens attacking Earth for no discernable reason other than being EEEEVVVULL and the government’s big plan to stop them is to send six guys with no training to punch them. Ever seen Pacific “Power Rangers for adults” Rim? How about another movie about Godzilla going on a rampage and smashing stuff?

        • I didn’t like The Avengers but I did enjoy Pacific Rim, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Godzilla so I have to assume you’re against anything that isn’t low budget art-house?

          Nothing wrong with that, I like that kind of thing too (I like all genres, really) but just giving you fair warning that the films you insulted so far in the last few comments are pretty much the most popular kind around here.

  5. But wait, if he’s busy with Avatar, who’s going to direct Aquaman?!

    • Spielberg, of course. Where’ve you been? smh

      lol :-)

  6. Avatar sucked.

    • Only for few unlucky..ones like you! Too bad!

      • Avatar sucked.

      • Beyonder, your comment makes no sense.

        Why would people be unlucky? If anything, those of us who saw the film are the unlucky ones, those who still haven’t seen Avatar are the lucky ones for having avoided it.

        Yes, it sucked. I’m glad I recorded it on the movie channel rather than paying money to watch it.

  7. He better make a better story. Come on, George Cameron-er James Lucas er whatever your name is!

  8. Should have been left as a stand alone film.

  9. I don’t even care anymore… Just do the damn movie already.

  10. I just hope he does a better job with the story this time, Avatar was really simplistic in this regard and is actually what stops it from having “real world” value, real world problems are rarely so simple.

    • I agree, although there are a minority of very loud people out there who appear incapable of viewing the world in more complex terms, and this minority seems to be growing. Disagree with them, and they assissinate your character by belittling, demonizing, and stereotyping you.

      • Which is pretty much the method of the unintelligent who have no real argument and resort to contradiction and the automatic gain-saying of whatever legitimate criticisms you have about the subject, which in this case is Avatar.

  11. I loved Avatar,thought it was an outstanding movie.My 11 year old daughter loves this movie as well.Great CGI and storyline development which made this movie so spectacular,it’s not #1 highest grossing movie of all time for no reason.If it’s not broke don’t fix it,great work James Cameron you’re the best director alive,even better than Steven Speilberg and Michael Bay.REAL TALK.

    • Great CGI?

      I take it you haven’t played a video game since 2002 because honestly, Avatar’s CGI looked on par with cutscenes from the various consoles that have released since that year in my view, based solely on the fact that I’ve been an avid gamer since the late 1980s.

      Great story?

      Ferngully did it better. So did Dances With Wolves. Even the South Park parody of Avatar did it better.

      “It’s not the #1 highest grossing movie of all time for no reason.”

      Yes it is. Humans are sheep-like in their mentality. Tell a large group that doing a particular activity will be good for them and they’ll do it, no questions asked. We do it all the time, even though we don’t realise it.

      The marketing for this mediocre film with 2006 videogame CGI pretty much stated that watching it would be a life-changing experience, causing masses of people to become curious and wonder how it could change their lives, resulting in huge ticket sales and then more gains when those people got caught up in the hype and recommended the same thing to their friends, who in turn got sucked in.

      Transformers; Age Of Extinction is this year’s biggest hit so far and it’s been widely described as one of the worst films in recent years but you know what? The pretty CGI still suckered people into parting with their cash and they justified it after by pretending that it was a brilliant film.

      As for Cameron being the best director alive? It’s personal opinion but I’d say the last great film he ever directed was released in 1992 and featured Arnold Schwarzenegger protecting Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong from Robert Patrick.

      I admire his exploration of the ocean because I feel we should follow his lead and chart the ocean floor before venturing back into space but otherwise, he just doesn’t excite me any more as a director. The fact you named that clown Michael Bay says it all about your mentality, unfortunately.

      • The pretty CGI still suckered people into parting with their cash and they justified it after by pretending that it was a brilliant film.

        LOL! Didn’t you claim that Pacific Rim and Godzilla were you’re favorite films in their respective years of release?! Or maybe it was Pacfic Rim’s deep sociopolitical subtext that appealed to you?

        Pot. Kettle. Black.

      • TL;DR. Lost me at “humans are…” What other species do you know of?

  12. Snore.

    If someone traveled back in time to 1991 and told me 2016, 17, and 18 would each have a major James Cameron Sci Fi movie coming out, I’d have soiled myself with excitement. But I could care less about seeing another Avatar movie.

    I’m starting to think Cameron is just Michael Bay Light. Less noise and fewer explosions, but almost as weak in the story telling. At least Bay hasn’t conned himself into thinking he’s ‘deep.’

    • …but to the simplistic, Cameron is “deep”.

      I hope most would admit that, although Avatar was good visually, it had an uncomplicated and unoriginal story.

      • True.

        I think his Oscar for Titanic blew his ego out of proportion to his writing talent.

        I’ve never seen A Night to Remember, but just skimming through it you can tell Cameron shamelessly ripped it off for Titanic. There’s even a fat old rich lady who looks like Kathy Bates.

        The fact that he thinks he’s doing some sort of good by way of social commentary is the funniest part. If I was a military guy I’d be pretty offended by the stereotypes.

        • I am even critical of his Titanic, as I cannot understand why he didn’t stick to fact/history, but instead, added a fictional love story into the mix, as if the story “needed” it.

          It is evident that his ego is very bloated. Anyone in the natural resource industry, as well as the military, could be rightly offended by his presentation of them.

          • I guess the love story was necessary to give characters that people cared about but to me, it just helped the film drag on longer than it needed to. Wasn’t it his take on a relationship between social classes mixed with a Shakespearean tragic kind of relationship?

            The first time I saw the film was in October 1998 on a coach trip (courtesy of my high school) to Spain (they figured we’d learn Spanish better by spending a week in the country and showed Titanic after we got off the ferry that crossed from Dover in England to Calais in France) and by the time the ship finally hit the iceberg, I was cheering in full support of the iceberg.

            I don’t mind love stories but the love story in Titanic did nothing for me. Plus she was totally selfish, did you see how much wood she was drifting on? Could’ve easily had them both on there and they’d have been saved but nope, let him be the tragic, kind-hearted man that you’ll always regret never spending the rest of your life with while you had the chance and then bore people with it when you get close to your deathbed.

            • “and by the time the ship finally hit the iceberg, I was cheering in full support of the iceberg”


      • You were just whining about people who disagree with you “demonizing” or “assassinating your character” and then you go and call people you disagree with “simplistic”?

  13. Avatar 2, sure… that would be great.. but avatar 3 and 4 ?
    Really? (back to back to back? really?)

    You are James Freaking Cameron.. Don’t do this…

    You don’t have to do this…

  14. Why couldn’t James make an autobiography about the time he saved the world by raising the bar?
    He is James! James Cameron! The greatest pioneer!
    No ocean too deep! No budget too steep….

    (You know you want to.)

  15. Avatar was just a really big budget cartoon. With a B movie story. It didn’t bore me (which is the biggest sin), but I didn’t think it was worth a rewatch. I was hoping the new films would cover new ground, but sounds like it’s the same.

  16. I expected to read nothing but drooling excitement for the Avatar sequels. I am surprised that the exact opposite has happened (thus far, at any rate). I wonder if time has made people rethink the quality of Avatar. As astonishing as it was to behold on the big screen (and it WAS astonishing), the story was painfully predictable.

    While I’m not foolish enough to believe that these films won’t make a ton of money for everyone involved (still, a billion dollars for three films is unbelievable), I’m not convinced that the level of excitemnt is there. Avatar simply does not hold up well on repeated viewings. If James Cameron forgets to bring a story this time, his audience may not be quite so massive…or forgiving.

    • One would hope you are correct, but if the Transformers and Twilight sequels garnered such huge followings, so will Avatar. Sometimes, people prefer spectacles to substance.

      • You’re right of course…Twilight and Transformers just kept (keep) making more money. But the difference ‘may’ be, the length of time. Seven years is a long time.
        While the first Sin City wasn’t a monster like Avatar, it did perform well. It’s pretty much expected that eleven years later, the sequel won’t be so successful.
        I know, I know…it’s wishful thinking. But if I’m wishing…I wish that the James Cameron that used to make brilliant science fiction, hadn’t been replaced by a pod person.

        • Let’s not forget we are talking about James freaking Cameron here…

          Between Avatar 2/3/4 WW, they are almost certain they will go over 5 billion(if not lot more)..

          This dude brings out audiences that who normally never goes to see movies..

    • Like I said further up the page, I’ve only seen Avatar once in my life and that was Christmas Day 2010 on Sky Movies Premiere. I sat watching with my younger brother since he was also interested in seeing if it lived up to the hype and by the end, both of us said “Thank f*** that’s over” at the exact same time and then discussed how utterly bored we were by pretty much everything (the plot, the acting, the CGI).

    • Why would you expect “drooling excitement?” You need to consider the source of most of these comment posts. Most people who post on these sites are bitter elitist fan-boys hiding in cyberland. They have never created anything of their own but they sure seem to know better than all of us and James Cameron…ha, yea right. Why are they so bitter? I don’t know, perhaps envy. Avatar stands as the biggest box office success in history and it steals the thunder away from the “better movies” and “better directors.” So they lash out and the movie at the top. Sorry, Dark Knight and Chritopher Nolan is not #1. These same fan-boys will someday emerge from thier Mom’s basement to see Avatar 2 and then we will see the same Ferngully/Dances with Smurfs jokes that they have been rehashing for seven years…GET SOME NEW MATERIAL FAN-BOYS. You like to accuse Cameron of plagerizing yet you rehash the same lame jokes post after post…geez.

  17. James Cameron doesn’t do what James Cameron does for James Cameron. James Cameron does what James Cameron does because James Cameron is James Cameron.

  18. Yawn…………… I still get the feeling it will be the same film repeated again and again with less anticipation of seeing something original and new…