Since James Cameron’s first Avatar film was 10 years in the making, and involved the invention of an entire planet and ecosystem, it’s no surprise that he’s taking his time to piece together the upcoming sequels. Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 (titles TBD) will be shot back-to-back, with the first one planned for a release no earlier than 2015, and Cameron has been playing around with the idea of shooting the films at 48fps. Right now though, he’s more concerned with planning and writing the scripts and getting the stories properly nailed down.
Here’s what we know of the story so far. Sigourney Weaver assured us over a year ago that she had seen the story outlines for the next two films and her character, Grace, will definitely be returning. Jon Landau has said that the two films will stand on their own, but that Avatar 2 “will kick off where the last one ended,” and also killed the circulating rumors that Cameron was planning to shoot three sequels back-to-back, whilst not dismissing the possibility of Avatar 4. Pandora will remain the setting for the story, and Cameron has also intimated that he plans to continue the message of environmentalism and warnings about the current deteriorating state of our own planet.
Cameron provided another update regarding the franchise in a recent interview with Play Goes Strong, in which he says that he’s currently burying himself in the world he created:
“I’m working on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3… I’m deep into it and I’m living in Pandora right now. There is that start up torque where you feel it’s coming to you. Then you build up momentum. That’s when it gets fun. The characters talk and it’s writing itself. I’m almost there right now. It’s building fast…
It’s a little daunting because sequels are always tricky. You have to be surprising and stay ahead of audience anticipation. At the same time, you have to massage their feet with things that they know and love about the first film. I’ve walked that line in the past, so I’m not too worried about it. At the same time, I definitely have to deliver the goods… As for a release date that will be determined by when I get the script out. No pressure!”
Hopefully he’s got a snorkel and mask with him, because from what we’ve already heard it sounds like a healthy chunk of Avatar 2 will be set underwater, in the oceans of Pandora. Excepting the Battle Angel adaptation and action thriller The Informationist that he will reportedly be directing after finishing the next two Avatar films, Cameron has no other productions on the go and seems to be completely absorbed in his pet project, which he apparently intends to be his biggest cinematic legacy. Certainly it has made the largest impact on our wallets; Avatar remains the highest-grossing film of all time, with a current worldwide gross of almost $2.8 billion.
Does Cameron’s obsessive dedication to the Avatar franchise bode well for the future sequels? While the first film was praised by critics for being visually stunning and breaking new ground in technical innovation, many felt that the “Pocahontas-in-space” story was a little too unoriginal, and that the messages about colonization and man’s impact on nature were a little heavy-handed. With that in mind, it sounds particularly promising that Cameron is apparently focusing such a great deal of his energy upon constructing a worthy sequel for the story and building upon one of the most highly-praised aspects of Avatar: the invention of an entire alien ecosystem.
How do you feel about the Avatar 2 details you’ve heard so far? Will the six or seven years between the release of the first film and the second build up too much hype, or fizzle away the fans’ excitement? Got any theories about where the plot might go next? Let us know in the comments.
Release dates for Avatar 2 & Avatar 3 will be announced whenever James Cameron finishes writing the scripts. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.