James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 4th, 2011 at 5:06 pm,

cameron avatar day James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

Yesterday, James Cameron hosted an event in preparation for the 3-disk Blu-ray and DVD release of Avatar Extended Collectors Edition; the event was entitled the Avatar Global Media Day, and has now been dubbed simply “Avatar Day.” Not to be confused with the original “Avatar Day”, where 15 minutes of footage from Avatar was screened in theaters nation-wide, prior to the films theatrical release. An event that was so successful that it has inspired Disney to produce a similar “Tron Night.”

This “Avatar Day” was an event where reporters from across the globe were invited to view excerpts from the features that will be contained on the November 16th release of the Avatar collectors edition Blu-ray and DVD. Reporters were also treated to an in person tour of all the stages in the creation of Avatar. I was lucky enough to be a participant at this event, and will follow up with more in-depth coverage.

We were able to confirm that Cameron intends to shoot Avatar 2 and 3 simultaneously, and that he is considering doing an additional project prior to the start of production on those two films. We wanted to follow up with a few more details on the tireless director’s future plans.

James Cameron Jon Landau James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

'Avatar' Director James Cameron with Producer Jon Landau

When asked about when we can expect to see a return to Pandora, Cameron told us:

“It’s in process right now, there is a lot of writing, a lot of designing and a lot of tech work that we are going to do. What I can tell you is this: Our plan, right now, is to make two and three together as a single large production, and release them a year apart. In order to do that we need to refine our technical process beyond the end of where we were finishing Avatar 1 a year ago. Because we need to future proof ourselves out five or six years to the end of the third film so we are taking that time now. Mostly because going through the process, even though we refined that process as we went along. There were certain things that we would have had to go full stop to be able to improve and upgrade, and we’re in that process right now.”

[Update: James Cameron’s next project will be the back-to-back production of Avatar 2 & 3.]

Having as many technical ducks in a row as possible prior to the beginning of production is likely a desire shared by the entire Avatar team. As art director Robert Stromberg told us, “At times it was like trying to paint, while people were inventing the paintbrush.”

Cameron feels that the technology is going where “they would like it to go, because we have been pushing it in that direction. Which is the closer what we experience in real time, to what the final image will be – the better… so that our real-time interface starts to look more and more like the finished product.” Making what is now a two-part process, of shooting and then finalizing effects one continuous process.

Visual effects supervisors Joe Letteri and Stephen Rosenbaum (WETA) confirmed that they are working on achieving as close to real-time results as possible.

Cameron feels that we are at an “interesting juncture in cinema history, where if you can imagine it, you can do it.” He said when he made that proclamation five years ago he was sort of bluffing, but now, the capabilities for all imagined possibilities are really there. The final frontier was the performance-capture of photo-realistic performances; and as Cameron states, “we’ve done that.”

Producer Jon Landau reiterates that the primary focus is story. He reminds us that “Jim has done two sequels (Terminator 2, Aliens) in the past and both times both stories lived up to what the first one did, and I think that’s really our goal.” To which Cameron responded laughingly, “no pressure.”

There have been rumors of a return of Sigourney Weaver’s character, although we had assumed she was well and fully dead at the conclusion of Avatar. When asked about the seeming inconsistency Cameron quipped: “Who said she died? Nobody dies in a science fiction movie. Whether Grace lives or dies depends more on Sigourney’s agent than anything.”

avatar james cameron giovanni ribisi sigourney weaver James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

As reported previously, Cameron will not be involved in the television version of the action-comedy hit True Lies, saying “if it’s great, you heard it here, I have nothing to do with it. If if sucks, I have nothing to do with it.” There has been some speculation about his involvement in a live-action rendition of the anime series Battle Angel, and of course persistent rumors about a re-imagining of Cleopatra.

So the question becomes, what is on the docket for the director?

In a private interview, the director told The New York Times that a 3D release of Titanic is being worked on. They are in a process of quality checking with several vendors and then will split the film amongst the best in order to insure excellence.

In terms of Cleopatra the director confirms that:

“There is a Cleopatra project in work, meaning that it’s been in development at Sony. And it’s a subject that’s always fascinated me. So yeah, I’ve been talking to them about it but no decisions have been made. But it sounds hot, doesn’t it? I mean, Angelina Jolie and Cleopatra? To me, that’s like a slam dunk. Whether I wind up doing it or not, I think it’s going to be a great project.”

In the larger press conference he reiterated that nothing had been finalized yet. Saying:

“I  haven’t made any decisions about that, but here’s a decision: I’m not going to work on a film between ['Avatar'] two and three. It’s really a question of whether or not I do one between now and when we start two. We’re evaluating how much of our tech work and how much of our facility work it’s going to take. That’s not decided as of right now. I’d love to just start on ‘Avatar 2′ right now, but I don’t know if that’s possible or if it makes sense to wait.”

jolie cameron cleopatra James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

We know that he is working with Australian engineers to develop a deep sea vessel that will allow him to travel to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, ostensibly to research and shoot 3D footage for the Avatar sequels. Cameron tells us, however, that “this isn’t about being a filmmaker…I don’t care if there is any footage (laughing) I’m going!”

One of the questions we had about Avatar as we journeyed through the day was the possibility for world-expansion. In other words, additional materials to fill out the world of Pandora. There are a multitude of official and fan-created books, comics, plays and art to compliment both Star Wars and Star Trek. There is even a version of Hamlet that is performed entirely in Klingon.

Pandora seems plum for the fan art pickings.

avatar special edition 01 570x320 James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

There is a book available entitled Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora, that provides a window into the world of Pandora with scientific field notes and research data. Botanist Jodie Holt, who acted as a consultant on the film for Sigourney Weaver’s character Grace Augustine, helped to create an entire book that identifies and catalogs plant-life on Pandora.

We also learned that there is a group devoted to mastering and expanding Na’vi language. A group which is dedicated enough that it includes members who speak Na’vi more fluently than Na’vi language creator Professor Paul Frommer. Perhaps we shall see an all Na’vi Midsummer Night Eve at some point.

Cameron is also working on an Avatar novel that should fill out some of the details of the world.

“The novel’s a big project, It’s not a novelization, which I hate, where you take the script and put it into prose form… I asked myself, ‘If this had been based on a book, what would that book have been?’ It ends concurrently  with the end of the movie. I’m not going to give you one frame beyond that. But how about the 30 years before Jake came to Pandora? The discovery of the planet? Grace’s arrival there? All the back story and the history of Earth. All the context and then everything lateral to what you see in the movie. Whether it’s things that are happening off-camera or things that are happening inside the characters’ heads.”

Cameron hopes to “create a bible or a foundation from which other writers can write novels that co-exist in the same Avatar universe, and maybe graphic novels and comic books, to treat that as a source work, so that they are not making up things that are dissonant with things that I want to do in the future.”

The 3-disk Blu-ray and DVD release of Avatar Extended Collectors Edition will be released on November, 16th.

Avatar Extended Collectors Edition artwork James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels, Cleopatra And More [UPDATED]

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  1. Okay guys. I saw this article on Facebook first with the following title: “So are you looking forward to Pocahontas, uh, I mean, Avatar sequels?”. And I must say that I didn’t like it much at all. I posted on the link and everything, but I feel like I should say something on the site.

    A LOT of people enjoyed this movie and to sum it up as “Pocahontas” is insulting and quite ignorant in my mind.

    Otherwise, I think this is great news.. I guess it is a good thing afterall that I read this first on Ain’t It Cool News.. They didn’t totally insult it..

    • I replied to you on facebook as well

      “I found it funny, and I’m sure most would
      Avatar really was just a big budget 3D live action version of pocahontas/fern gully

      cool effects, bland/predictable story… I will likely wait for the dvd”

    • Oh, and seeing how quickly you commented, I guess you didn’t read the 1400+ word completely non-insulting article. :-P


    • Hey Sin!

      I wrote the article and was able to go to the event (which was amazing) and I get how you feel.

      I personally loved Avatar — I don’t think it was without flaws, but I don’t think may things are without flaws :). I was completly blown away by the immersion experience of the film. I felt like I had seen a movie, taken a ride and lived a bit of a fantasy/hero’s journey tale.

      In any case its all about the execution, and this film truly was revolutionary in terms of the technology and use of the technology. MORE IMPORTANTLY – the technology was in the serice of the story, and not the other way around. Which is key to the films success.

      This was my response to peoples complaints about the archetypal nature of the story. We,as humans tell the same tales over and over again, it’s part of how we understand ourselves. So what if the story was reminiscent of other tales? In many ways, it needed to be, or people would miss the meaning entirely. If it was not that archetypal we may have been mired down in a bunch of intellectualization — and missed the point entirely. Mythological tales are designed that way for a reason and serve a really great purpose.

      To me, the most interesting character in the film was Pandora itself, and I think it is very telling that people have such a resistance to that. In terms of dimensionality, it goes human, Na’vi, Pandora — I think our egos resist the idea that we are NOT the MOST IMPORTANT thing in the universe, but rather part of a greater, far more complex whole. Personally, that is one of my favorite aspects of the film. I think it is doing a lot more, and having a lot greater impact than many other films, and there is plenty of evidence to back that up.

      And I think given the response to the film, no one can deny that is hits a very deep, global chord.

      So those are my thoughts. I loved the movie too and respect what it did.



      • My rant wasn’t about the article at all. I liked the article. It was about what was said on Screen Rant about Avatar.

        Thanks for responding though Roth!

        • *ON Facebook lol

        • Methinks you doth protest too much, Sin.

          • Hahaha.
            Yeah, I figure someone has got to do it!

    • I really liked Avatar. It was visually amazing. Was the story a rip-off? of course. To me it was a sci-fi Dances with Wolves. Still worth watching.

  2. Sin,

    Really, bro, lighten up just a teensy bit. It was a joke, son.


    • Well, that’s the problem. Like the guy above said because of all of the comparisons to “Fern Gully” and “Pocahontas” some people probably didn’t even give it a chance. Trust me, I like to joke around and I understand a lot why people compare it to “Pocahontas”, but it starts to get old after awhile.

      I love the site Vic. I just feel sometimes people express their own opinion too much and make up the minds for others and I know it’s not just the writers fault (in a way its the readers fault because they can be persuaded so easily). (Ex. the “Let Me In” review)

      • Sin,

        The movie made over a billion dollars. I’m pretty sure people gave it a chance. :)

        As we’ve gotten bigger and I rarely write any more I feel like the “Rant” has gone out of the site – I’ve got to toss it in there once in a while. :-D


        • Haha. Yeah, you got a point. But, there are a lot of people who loved the movie. I did. And not just because of the technology, but also I did like the story. I mean, it wasn’t quite original, but overall I thought it was done correctly and that counts.

          I do love the site. But, I can say one thing. You never responded to an article that I attempted to write for the site! Lol. A response would have been pretty cool (negative or positive). It’s been a year or so since I sent it in to you, but it has been plaguing my mind ever since! Haha

          • I thought the movie was entertaining, but I didn’t like Cameron’s ego after the movie came out. It seemed to increse quite a bit…

            • Yeah, I agree with that BigFoot. But, think about it. If you just released a movie that you had been working on for a decade. And that movie made almost $3 billion world-wide making it the #1 grossing movie ever. You might have a little ego too. Lol.

              It’s a lot for a single man to handle. It must’ve gotten to his head.

              • Lol, you have a point. I may not agree with its popularity, but I will admit, it grossing 2 billion is insane. Hopefully this enlarged ego of his will soon vanish…

          • Are you sure? If someone offers to write for the site (although I don’t do guest posts) I always reply.


            • Yeah Vic. I swear to god. I remember what it was about too. It was about Uwe Boll’s movie “Max Schmeling”. And I contacted Paul Young through Facebook and he gave me the assignment and had me send it to you. I don’t believe I ever heard back from you.

              • Sin,

                Did you use the contact form, because earlier this year the damned thing was broken for about 3-4 months and I had NO idea. I imagine hundreds of people tried contacting me and thought that I ignored them completely… :-(


                • It might have been possible that I did. I’m not 100% sure. I don’t really remember haha.

                  Think I could get another chance? This is something that I’d love to do. I’m actually going to Film School for Screenwriting next fall (September 2011) and this could be a pretty good experience!

                  Email me if you’d like Vic. I don’t know if you can tell what my email address is, but honestly I don’t really want to post in on Screen Rant. Haha

                    • *gasp* OMG. Vic Avatar is way better than sherlock holmes!!!

  3. Pleaseeeee James Cameron, forget about Avatar 2 and 3. You’re already insanely rich as it is, work on something like Battle Angel or this Cleopatra project you’ve been “talking about”.

  4. Nice article Roth, wish i could have gone to that :). I can’t wait to see what other moons and life on pandora there is. Especially the oceans!

    • Thanks Sully,

      The event was fantastic. As a true film geek it was like being a kid in a candy shop! More on the overall event to come. In the interim, let me just leave you with this – I got to camera operate at simulcam!



        • Hey Joe_6285,

          The event was great! A real pleasure to attend. You know from what he said, he is still working on the details of his schedule. I believe he would love to get started on the Avatar sequels right away, but is not yet sure if that makes the most sense for the production and what they are trying to improve on the technological end. I would guess, from what he said that we are about 4, possibly 5 years away from seeing Avatar 2 in theaters and 3 will be released one year after that.

          He has not yet said if he will do another film prior to Avatar 2, but I am sure if/when he makes a decision, some sort of official public announcement will be made.

          Possibly Cleopatra…possibly Battle Angel. Which would you prefer?

          Many Thanks!


  5. Wasn’t Steven Sodeberg attached to the Cleopatra film in the first place?
    (He even was planning on making it into a 3D musical)

    What happened?

  6. In my opinion Avatar was unoriginal and I thought the CGI was good for the most part.I thought The CGI on Na’vi made it into an cartoon.

  7. ROth, im not a Cammy fan really, although i’ll admit i like some of his movies. Avatar just didnt do it for me at all. im not one here that thinks Cammy is a “god” when it comes to filmmaking. and although i still think Aliens was his best movie(yes, better than T2)i still watch the original film more than i Cammys sequel. hopefully he wont concentrate on anything else BUT A2&3 in the coming years as a commitment to his true fans

    • Hey Anthony — Yeah I’m not sure I think anyone is a God — if by God we mean perfect ;) lol.

      I LOVED T2 and Aliens — female characters like Sara Conner and Ripley just mean so much to me, and other ladies — I just can’t tell you how cool it was seeing her with that shotgun :D!

      I really respect how powerful Avatar is visually/creatively, technologically and culturally. I love all kinds of films and filmmakers for all kinds of different reasons. And I gotta say — just from the perspective of a seriosus film geek — operating that simulcam was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

      Serious nerd time for me :)

      Thanks for posting – good to hear your thoughts!



  8. Does this even work?

  9. Nice article. I gotta say, Avatar is an awesome movie and all but it was WAY too over-hyped. I know it was Cameron’s first film since Titanic but my God! It is definitely the new (and I’m afraid to say this, please don’t kill me) Star Wars/Star Trek of this generation. 2 billion dollars is a record that won’t be broken for at least 10-15 years and the movie was great but in my honest opinion it was over-hyped.

  10. would be nice if he would actually get some one who resembled and looked like THE REAL CLEOPATRA

  11. what is a Blue-Ray on the first line is it the same as blu-ray?

    • oskar,

      Holy cow, how the heck did we miss that? Thanks for pointing it out – it’s been corrected.


      • Vic

        it still says 3 disk blue ray at the bottom lol.

        • Ricky,

          Dammit. Thanks, found them ALL and fixed them.


  12. It won’t matter because The Americans will kill this Cameron and his bloated box-office accomplices far before he finishes any purported epic movie series. They’re waiting to do it right now as they have always done it and there is no stopping America. Camerons little dreams will be killed and laid to rest as is the case for all those who have done what he does.