James Cameron Talks ‘Avatar 2 & 3′ Oceans & Avoiding ‘Matrix 2′ Problems

3 years ago by  

It’s going to be at least three years until the first sequel to the biggest box office film of all-time hits theaters, yet James Cameron is already teasing how a potential fourth Avatar film could serve as a franchise prequel. As for the sure-fire Avatar 2 & 3 – which will shoot together – Cameron is preparing to isolate himself to begin penning the interconnected screenplays, a task that may prove to be his most challenging writing endeavor to date.

When Avatar released to box office magic over two years ago, Cameron wasn’t shy about revealing that the sequel(s) would showcase the oceans of Pandora. Knowing Cameron’s affinity for underwater environments – as emphasized in his resume of film and documentary work – it came as no surprise, but now we have a better idea of what we means by exploring the moon’s aquatic setting.

Cameron appeared at the Best Buy New York launch event for the Titanic Blu-ray release last night where Coming Soon asked about his ideas and plans for going underwater in the sequel(s), considering what’s been covered in films like The Abyss and Titanic, and his documentaries: Aliens of the Deep, Ghosts of the Abyss, and Expedition: Bismarck.

“We’re doing ‘Avatar’ films now, so we’re making up an ocean ecosystem for Pandora. That’s gonna have less to do with the deep exploration that I’ve done than it has to do with my concerns about conservation of Earth’s oceans. The fact that we’re basically overfishing, climate change… a few degrees of temperature rise are gonna basically take out the coral reefs. All those beautiful images of the coral environments we all grew up with won’t exist in 50 years at the rate we’re going in terms of pumping greenhouse gases into the environment. These are the things that concern me.”

“I hope that explains it, ’cause people have connected the dots directly together. ‘Oh, going to the challenger deep has a direct connection to what we’re going to see in Avatar 2,’ and that’s not the case at all. It’s all the scuba diving I did before I even started the deep ocean stuff that has more of a direct connection to Avatar 2 & 3, which by the way won’t take place completely in or under the water. That’s just part of the environment of Pandora that we’re going to see.”

Cameron already explained that much of the familar locales presented in Avatar 1 will of course be back in the sequel, but by delving deep into Pandora’s oceans to bring attention to what he sees as nature-destroying industrialism in that type of environment, the creative and production teams are taking no shortcuts and will have to craft entirely new types plant life and sea creatures to go along with a technically more challenging shooting process.

In fact, it’s that challenging process and Cameron’s desire to again innovate on the technological side of filmmaking that’s pushing Avatar 2 further back than Twentieth Century Fox would like. Cameron mainstreamed 3D by developing new 3D motion capture process for Avatar and for the sequels, he aims to utilize underwater 3D motion capture which at this time, simply doesn’t exist yet. They’re also building a deep-sea vessel to shoot underwater sequences so we can see why a 2014 release for Avatar 2 simply isn’t feasible.

Shooting the films is one monumental challenge of its own, creating a story arc spread over several films, with each chapter having its own standalone story is another. In chatting with Hero Complex, Cameron touched on the challenging of developing the sequel screenplays and references The Matrix trilogy as an example he doesn’t want to follow.

“It’s a little bit of a daunting writing task because it’s two scripts and they’ve both gotta be done at the same time… I’m writing it as separate stories that have an overall arc inclusive of the first film. I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Matrix 2′ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell? It’s gotta end. There’s gotta be a sense of conclusion, but also a sense that the journey will continue, and that’s a fine line.”

The story wasn’t the selling point of Avatar and the visual spectacle was often criticized as being a retelling of Dances with Wolves, but no one can discredit imagination and detail put into designing the ecosystem and wildlife that form the dangerous yet beautiful Pandoran paradise. Let’s hope that aspect carries over to the sequels while we get something more original from the story.


Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: Coming Soon, Hero Complex

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT: avatar, avatar 2, avatar 3


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  1. so the na’vi are gonna mutate into mermaids or something?

    • Did you seriously ask that? Sheesh. READ the article…

      • so instead of ripping off pocahontas he’s gonna rip off 20,000 leagues under the sea? come up with something original Cameron geez!

        • Yes the story was pretty copied but what movie isn’t? Cameron made the seemingly normal extremely extraordinary that is what great directors do.

          • Thank you, trey. Yes, exactly.

        • You know what’s unoriginal? People having a go at Avatar about it’s lack of originality like they were the first person to think of it! It’s Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, Ferngully… Yeah, know what? We’ve heard it all before! And it’s boring.

  2. Haha, he really should direct an Aquaman movie considering how much he cares about the ocean.

    • Prince namor the sub -mariner would be right up his alley.

  3. “I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Matrix 2′ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell?” literally laughed out loud

    • Ditto.

    • I think for Avatar to be at risk of suffering from the matrix 2 problems, the first Avatar movie would have had to have been good.

      • See, I thought it actually WAS good. So, the statement holds merit.

    • I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Avatar 1′ problem, where it happened

  4. What a bunch of global warming hogwash. Make a decent movie; don’t preach to me about some grand liberal conspiracy theory

    • Climate change is not a HOAX. And facts arent a theory. I know you conservatives don’t like facts, but facts are facts and we are dealing with climate change. The coral reefs are disappearing “A warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level. At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts,heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns.”

      • Love the unreferenced quote. Your right though climate change is not a hoax, it changes all the time. Anthropogenic global warming though is still not fact and won’t be one way or the other so long as you guys continue to politicize the issue with this whole liberal vs. conservative thing.

        Now back to what doesn’t really matter. Avatar was a spectacle but that’s about it. Still can’t get excited enough to watch it a second time. I hope that 2 and 3 will be even better movies and not just a better and bigger spectacle.

      • Lol, quoting An Inconveniet Truth? Love how anyone is categorized at a conservative if they don’t agree with your ideology. Such ignorance. Climate change is naturally occurring. Earth heats up and cools down on its own. Please stop politicizing this issue.

        • lol ok um obviously you didnt read the comment i was replying to, because if you did, you would of seen his comment -”What a bunch of global warming hogwash. Make a decent movie; don’t preach to me about some grand liberal conspiracy theory” so i find it funny that all of a sudden you would attack me for “politicizing” the issue when he or she was the 1st to bring it up.

  5. movie 3… lava… well, magma. you know mean XD

  6. “Avatar” was a visually stunning movie. When it came to the movie’s storyline, “Avatar” fell into the proverbial abyss.

    What I got from the movie was: If you don’t like what your species is doing, you can switch bodies and kill them off. Instead of trying to bring both parties to the table, the main character waited to the very last moment to say, “Hey, you are going to die”.

    • I think he waited because his character had torn allegiances and was having a hard time making a choice between the two sides…or maybe it was just a way to help build tension for the viewers. I felt the same way though, his delaying created a lot of needless destruction to the smurfs, I mean, na’vi .

  7. Cant he just make BATTLE ANGEL instead of Avatar?


    I liked matrix reloaded’s end.
    Our Hero coma and right next to him our villain also comatose
    also millions of the machines are coming to murder us.
    Bum Bum Bum………….

    • agreed

  9. sooo he is going to do sponge bob movie?

    • LOL

    • How great would it be if, during his recent deep sea dive, he encountered bikini bottom…like, THE bikini bottom…at some level, the ocean just becomes animated…then in THAT abyss it switches back to the regular ocean…ah, to dream…

  10. I’m looking forward to seeing an epic aquatic acropolis in the oceans of pandora. Thanks for the update, Rob.


    • You’re always welcome, Bane. If that’s really you under that mask… ;)

  11. Wow, the ignorance in some of these comments blows my mind.

    Anyway, I’m look forward to this! Like the last part of the article said, the story was far from incredible, but the world itself was incredible. The animals, the plant life, just the overall thought that went into the making of the film.

    Some people talk about Avatar being all flash, and no substance, as if it was a Transformers level disaster. Dancing With Wolves wasn’t the first to do this plot line either. It’s a known story, sure. It’s like superhero movies. The misfit get’s into some freak accident, some guy he knows turns into a villain, the hero kills the villain at the end and get’s the girl. Or, the hero is super rich, realizes he could use his money for good, fights crime, and learns a lesson. When dealing with known plot lines, it’s about HOW you tell it in your way.

    I personally liked Avatar a lot, and think with a better story line, the sequel could be an incredible film. By the way, I’m not saying you’re wrong in not liking the movie, but I just think the hate is over exaggerated by some people.

    • I do not think James Cameron is original anymore, but I do love Avatar anyway and would love to see the sequels!

    • Thanks for a level headed comment.

      I agree that there’s much more vocal haters on this than necessary (probably because it was so successful), as if by making Avatar Cameron is depriving you of your right to see other movies.

      And I don’t mind being entertained by a movie that raises awareness on a social issue that affects all of humanity (e.g. the ocean provides the majority of the oxygen that we breathe, and if we mess it up then we’re harming ourselves).

    • You’re right and I’m with you. The fact is, Cameron is taking his time to develop and innovate filmmaking tech and techniques AGAIN to offer something totally unique.

      From the sounds of it they have SO much work ahead of them in developing an entirely new world to go with new stories.

      I’m excited to see more of that planet and where the story goes next.

    • I 100% agree with you man.

  12. and with his comment on “climate change” my money goes elsewhere.

    I’ve never had an inkling to rewatch avatar, as once was plenty. Visually, awesome. The rest, meh.

  13. I commented about this as well and I can’t say that I’m all that excited to see a 4th. Seriously is there even a point??

  14. In all seriousness. If I had 1 movie wish. It would be for Avatar to be done with. Couldn’t stand the movie. Don’t wanna see a sequel or sequels. The story was bad. The visuals were nice, except for the fact that it was too long to sit there with 3D glasses on.

  15. Sounds interesting, but I would really like to throw my money at Battle Angel instead. I really hope he doesn’t ditch that project. Knowing how awesome T2 was, I know he can pull it off, and its a really interesting story too.

    As for Avatar 2, I’m hoping more for an original story and I’m kinda excited for the underwater world. The first Avatar didn’t really bother me. I don’t see what the hate is for. One viewing was enough for me though. :)

  16. I just want True Lies on Blu Ray. Is that too much to ask Mr Cameron…

  17. There were concepts in Avatar that I don’t recall in other films, regarding the neurology of the tree root system, etc. I also wish folks would keep their politics off screen rant. This site rocks for its reviews, analysis, content, etc. Film is art, and art is expression. It would be nice to keep the focus on the artistry and not how the subject matter rubs you the wrong way cause in your mind you swore allegiance to somebody’s political platform, lol.

    • In the “political” posters defense, Mr. Cameron is the one who brought up climate change. I thought he was a little heavy handed with his political thoughts in Avatar, but aside from that it wasn’t a bad movie. Mostly I appreciate his advancements in filming techniques and technology.

    • Cameron brought up climate change, a super controversial theory. Maybe Cameron should stop spouting off about ManBearPig considering how much it divides people.

      • Yes he did bring up the climate change because its a real issue!!! climate change is not A THEORY its FACT. And yea i guess fact would divide people, like you, who do not want to face facts! These are serious issues and im glad he is bringing them up.

      • >super controversial

        Only among people who aren’t scientists.

        • Oh God I forgot the article was this old.

  18. what an egotistical wanker, the guy takes every opportunity he can to make himself look like a hero, man go f*** yourself and your supposed contribution to humanity and do something that will actually benefit the world, like using your millions to help the starving and poor in africa or the middle east.

    i hate this reject with a damn passion and cant wait for him to retire from hollywood, he made 2-3 decent movies and thinks he’s god >:(

    • Shut the hell up dude. WHo the hell do you think you are? Like seriously. You don’t even know the guy personally, you never met him, so how can you hate him with a passion? Im pretty sure he has done a lot more for the community than you have ever done for yours. And James is bringing up important issues that we humans are going through on our planet right now. So why is it such a big deal? its not like someone is forcing you to go and watch the movie.

      So grow the hell up and stop crying over someone you do not know at all! Your the real reject who finds fault at something that has done great to the environment.

      • ohh yeah sure, he really cares fort the environment, that’s why he mentions himself more in regards to the topic them the topic itself. i had a teacher a few years back who did the matte paintings in avatar and she said that he was the biggest control freak/abusive wanker to everyone involved, so the artists where forced to mute him or tune out in order to keep on working and not calling quits, she is a pretty higher up in wetta so i take her word for granted. not only that, but listening to him during interviews furthers my point in him being an egotistical f***.

        and how do you know he’s done more then me at contributing to world issues, if you A/ dont know anything about me and B/ know nothing about him or what he has done to help the world. he is just grabbing publicity in an dirty attempt at sucking people into watching a sequel to a pretty mundane movie. avatar was nothing besides half decent visuals (that of which he partly copied designs from other sci-fi mediums) and even they’re debatable (only decent scenes are the ones with neon like glows imo since everything else was green/blue).

        • EEasy there tiger!!

        • WoWWW lol, I rest my freakin case. You are basing your whole crappy argument based off on one of your former teachers, just ONE person???? Are you serious?? LMAO. People like you really justify the total ignorance level of the human population.

          OK um for one, just by you listening to his interviews does not really further your point on a person you DO NOT KNOW, it only furthers the ignorant and incompetent low thinking opinions that you have. And I find it really ironic that you are all of a sudden being hypocritical about me not “knowing anything” about you. And yes James Cameron has done MORE than you, unless you have donated literally $1 million to the California, “No on Prop 23″. I’m guessing you have not. Or if you have donated ANOTHER $1million dollars to Haiti, which by the way he and his team planted one million tress in Haiti. AND, James Cameron is taking some of his earnings from future Avatar films and giving back to the environment. So if you have done more than that, then well ohh jeess i guess im wrong.

          And no, I’m pretty sure if he “copied” design from other mediums, he would have been sued.

      • @Justin Kemp – I’ve already addressed JWalka. I think it’s time to move along to a different discussion. Apparently neither of you can hold a debate from opposing viewpoints without it degrading into a a mudfest.

        Everyone understands Justin – you think man is killing the plant and praise Cameron for pointing out that topic in his movies. JWalka disagrees with you and finds Cameron to be a pompous self-righteous jerk.

        Since Cameron brought up the topic of cliamte change there’s nothing wrong with addressing that in the comments section, however you two can’t seem to disagree in a civil manner.

        Let’s drop the subject.

        Paul Young – Moderator

  19. Maybe Al Gore can play one of the terminator smurfs in this one. Then he and Cameron can tell us all about ManBearPig and how we should all go green and blah blah blah. Cameron is his own worst enemy. All he wants to talk about is how important he is to the world, and how he’s the savior to Mother Earth. I cannot care about anything this man does because he cannot keep his own political views out of the cinema. I don’t give a damn about his zealous religious conviction in climate change. I don’t go to movies to be reminded of those things. I want escapism. Having said that, I liked the Matrix Reloaded and thought it expanded upon the ideas and philosophy put forth in the original. For Avatar 2, IMO, to be successful in the same way, Avatar 1 would have to have a legitimate story, characters I care about, etc. There has to be a foundation to expand, besides pretty 3D and visuals, and I just don’t think Avatar brings that to the table. It’s empty, hollow special effects filmmaking that is similar to George Lucas’ SW prequels. Style over substance.

    • Humph, guess I watched a different movie than you because I did think it was a legitimate story (although the conversation theme were a bit too overt at times), I DID care about the characters and thought it was much more than “hollow special effects filmmaking”.

      To each their own but I bet you will be in the theater like the rest of us to see the stunning underwater FX. :)

      • Ack…evil spell checker…..it’s supposed to be conservation!)

    • Dude, no one is forcing you to go watch the movie or any other movie for that fact, and for future advice, dont even bother to go and see his sequel if you are so worried and upset about his environment message, because he’s going to have one. Your acting like he made Avatar ALL about the environment which is not the case. You want to talk about all you want to have that “escapism” feel, dude I TOTALLY agree and get that, I love that feeling but what i think James is trying to do it wake people up about how WE, humans are treating our Home Planet. What the hell is so wrong about that. Maybe thats the problem with people s because they are just so busy with their jobs/ and day to day stuff that they arent aware of whats going on around them. And thats what James is doing, just making ppl aware of what is happening to our planet.

      But anyways I Loved Avatar and I am very optimistic about Avatar 2/3. This is James Cameron we are talking about. I don’t remember he ever made a bad sequel. So I’m pretty sure he will do awesome.

      • I legitimately like this comment. I disagree with you, but I still like what you said.
        BUT he did make a bad sequel- Piranha 2: The Spawning! LOL. Seriously YouTube a scene from that film. But besides that, yeah, he’s a solid sequel guy.
        RANDOM- its probably just me, but doesn’t it at least seem like whenever JC talks about his films, especially Avatar, he always uses another film as an example? Here he’s using Matrix Reloaded. I remember when he was talking about Avengers and Piranha 3Ds 3d tech. Anyone else notice that?

  20. Guess I missed the super secret surprise version of Matrix 2 where it just “ended”. I thought it left us with a bit of a cliffhanger AND there was a Matrix 3, right?! (even though I didn’t like it)

    I loved Avatar and while I agree the story was derivative of so many others, so WHAT? What movies are completely original now a days? You all don’t think Star Wars was original did you? (it was a classic cowboy story in space). If you don’t like story repeats then you should stop watching movies and while you’re at it only read biographical and self-help books.

    My only problem with the movie was how over the top, selfish, and self absorbed ******** the Humans were. I can only hope that by the time we do gain interstellar capability, we will not treat the rest of the galaxy like it’s our manifest destiny to conquer it.

  21. Give Battle Angel to someone else then if you’re just going to make Avatar movies dude

  22. James Cameron is so full of himself. Check out his comments on The Avengers..


    • David…

      I just listened to that interview…When was he full of himself? He did sound happy with his films’ places in the box office hierarchy, maybe even prideful. I didn’t get pomposity. He even remarked positively about “The Avengers” as a crowd-pleaser…yes, with a bit of a smirk. If you were expecting him to praise TA for its intellectual depth or for being the best film in all of the known universe, well…it just wasn’t going to happen.

      None of this is to say that he ISN’T a boorish jackanape, but that did not reveal itself in THIS interview.

  23. There’s maybe 4 to 5 comments on this thread that aren’t beyond arrogant. Not a single person in this world is making you watch or read anything James Cameron says or has made. This isn’t some dystopian sci-fi film where you’re strapped down to a chair with your eye held open watchimg James Cameron interviews and film. All your excuses are petty reasons to bash something you didn’t care for. Get over it and grow up, seriously, you sound like fanboys with no life.

    As far as the eviormental thing, whether or not global warming is happenimg from man, destroying our planet is. And you cannot deny that one bit, unless you’re on complete denial about oil spills (ypu know that big one in the gulf), extreme clear cutting, mass whaling and dolphin slaying. Wake up, people.

  24. Tagging a huge sci-fi movie franchise sequel to preaching messages of environmentalism…? It would be like Return of the jedi meets The Unfortunate Truth, thats a pitch meeting that would last a while.

    James Cameron obviously really likes the world he has created in Avatar and wants to do more there but to stretch it over three films and portentially nine hours might not be practical. Anyway heres hoping all the time he’ll be putting in will be worthwhile and entertaining enough to justify the ticket price for 3D.

  25. I think Cameron referencing to the Matrix could have been avoided. Yes, the Matrix sequels could have been better but in the end it was a huge success as a lot of people saw the trilogy. I rather enjoyed the trilogy. Cameron has the visuals down and just needs to focus on the overall script/plot portion of the movie.
    Yes, I do agree that Avatar is not original stealing ideas from different movies but then again so do a lot of other movies. Seems like lately the movies out are either rip offs movies stealing the idea from an earlier movie or a remake/reboot. I would rather have an Avatar 2 than having a rebooted Spiderman movie. Yes, the idea may be stealing the idea from past movies but at least it’s done in a new light rather than, “wow, this movie had success before. Lets reboot it”, IMHO

  26. So, we get two-to-three more movies with simple, naive stories, unoriginal twists and overly flashy special effects?

    Oh, gee, am I ever excited.

  27. There is a more sinister reason why the sequels to Avatar are so slow in coming. TO which these Dances with Wolves/ Fergully comparisons will be proven to be purely unfortunate shill propaganda. All is not as it is lavishly presented on Pandora.

  28. So atleast 3 to 4 weeks eh? good to know
    considering nobody dated this fukin thing so for all I know this article was posted 5 years ago

  29. Without the same actors and characters that those actors portray I think the movie will flop. I want the navi forrest not fish and nerdy underwater crap.

    @the nerds who say Avatar sucked and its not original: Not that he did rip off Pocahontos because they are way different but does it matter if its still an amazing movie?? I Pochahontos sucked so why do you care? Jimmi Hendrix didn’t write All Along The Watchtower, Dylan sang it first does that means it sucks? Shut the helI up u fat nerds