20th Century Fox has officially announced that James Cameron has decided that his next projects will be the (to put it mildly) highly-anticipated sequels, Avatar 2 and Avatar 3.
Cameron announced his plans last week to shoot the Avatar sequels back-to-back, but said he was still uncertain as to whether he would take on another project before returning to Pandora - not so surprisingly, he has decided to do the latter first.
Here's the official word from Fox Entertainment Chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman:
"'Avatar' is not only the highest grossing movie of all time, it is a created universe based on the singular imagination and daring of James Cameron, who also raised the consciousness of people worldwide to some of the greatest issues facing our planet. We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of 'Avatar.'"
Cameron spoke out about the Avatar sequels as well, saying that he and his crew's goal was "to meet and exceed the global audience's expectations for the richness of 'Avatar's' visual world" and that both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 would not "back off the throttle of 'Avatar's' visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world."
Avatar grossed over $2.8 billion (you read that right) in theaters worldwide and was very well liked by both critics and casual moviegoers. There was never a question as to whether or not a sequel (or two) was on the way - we've all just been waiting to hear when they would happen.
Both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will be less expensive shoots, since Cameron and his crew already have the motion-capture and 3D camera equipment they need to fully realize the extra-terrestrial world populated by the Na'vi. Avatar stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana will definitely be back for the sequels, and there's even been rumblings about how both Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver could reprise their roles as Col. Quaritch and Dr. Grace Augustine, respectively. We're not sure how that would work but, given the nature of the Avatar universe, it's certainly possible.
It will be interesting to see where Cameron goes, in terms of narrative, with his Avatar sequels. Avatar mixed spectacular sci-fi action and creatures with a not-so-subtle allegorical storyline about the exploitation of natural resources and genocide against a native population (sorry folks - it was kind of like Ferngully: The Last Rainforest meets Dances With Wolves). We'll see if the plots of Avatar 2 and 3 turn out to be a little less cliché and heavy-handed, while still managing to address the important social issues that Cameron is clearly interested in.
Cameron will work on the scripts for the Avatar sequels early next year, with an eye towards starting production in late 2011. Avatar 2 is tentatively expected to reach theaters by December 2014, while Avatar 3 will aim for a December 2015 release date.
Source: 20th Century Fox