Box-office maestro James Cameron sat down with the LA Times this week and spilled the beans on several bits of Avatar-related news, including more information on his plans with Avatar 2 and his planned theatrical re-release of Avatar at the end of this summer.

Among other tidbits, Cameron acknowledged that in Avatar 2 he plans to take audiences beyond the lush, exotic rain forests of Pandora and explore the alien world even further.

As Cameron put it himself:

“We created a broad canvas for the environment of film.  That’s not just on Pandora, but throughout the Aplha Centauri AB system.  And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story – not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film.  I’ve already announced this, so I might as well say it: Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment – a different setting within Pandora. And I’m going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won’t be a rain forest. I’m not saying we won’t see what we’ve already seen; we’ll see more of that as well.”

Cameron’s interest in exploring the depths of the Pandoran ocean should come as no surprise to fans — the director’s fascination with marine life and geography has previously manifested in the form of a feature film (The Abyss) and two deep-sea IMAX documentaries.  That’s not to mention the similarities that many moviegoers noted between the design of Pandora’s forest-life in Avatar and the flora found beneath the ocean on Earth.

Nope, I see no connection to Avatar here.

While Cameron made no reference as to when exactly Avatar 2 might be hitting theaters, he did offer the assurance that it would not take nearly as long as the first film.  He added that the goal was “to do what we did before at half the price and in half the time.” A goal that he acknowledged was likely impossible – but a goal he’d still be aiming for nonetheless.

Considering that work on Avatar went on for over four years, with the budget ballooning possibly as high as $387 million, that’ll be a relief for 20th Century Fox executives.

Expect Avatar 2 to be just as epic (albeit cheaper) than the first film.

Meanwhile, although Avatar will hit DVD and Blu-ray this week on Earth Day, April 22 (the ultimate, four-disc edition isn’t due out until November), Cameron revealed that the film will return to theaters this August with an additional six minutes of footage – much of which has required significant additional effects work by Weta.

Cameron noted that the main reason most 3-D theaters stopped running Avatar was due to a contractual obligation to show other, newer features (Alice in Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans) — as opposed to filmgoers having gotten their fill of the Pandoran adventure on the big screen.

He also offered the following as part of the reasoning behind Avatar returning to theaters this fall:

“I think Avatar is kind of a unique category where people are enjoying the unique theatrical experience even though they may have seen it on the small screen.  They want to have that immersive, transportive experience.  2001: A Space Odyssey played for three years at the Loews cinema in Toronto.  I remember that.  It just kept playing.  People wanted to return to that experience.”

2001: Space Odyssey — another film that took audiences on an immersive journey into space.

To learn more about Cameron’s affinity for real-life science and science-fiction alike and the social impact of Avatar — which has led to, among other things, the Chinese mountain Zhangjijie being renamed after the Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora — make sure to check out the full LA Times interview.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to keep you posted on any additional news concerning Avatar 2 and/or the new extended version of Avatar as it comes in.

Think you’ll see Avatar again in theaters? What do you hope to see in Avatar 2?

Source: LA Times