James Cameron's Avatar was revered upon its immediate theatrical release for its cutting-edge 3D visuals and motion-capture animation, which resulted in the film securing a handful of technical Oscars for its accomplishments (including, for visual effects and art direction) - to mention nothing of the film's $2.8 billion worldwide gross. However, Cameron's efforts to reappropriate the (Antiquated? Old-School?) settlers vs. natives storyline - Dances with Wolves being a famous example from the last couple decades - in a futuristic other-worldy sci-fi context, did not go over as well.
It seems as though Cameron is somewhat aware that people won't let him off so easy on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, should he attempt to marry a solidly-constructed, yet derivative, narrative with stunning effects and imagery again. The King of the World... of big box office movie-making has spent the last couple years focused on refining the Avatar sequels' scripts, saying that although he isn't worried, Cameron also knows "I definitely have to deliver the goods."
The Wrap is reporting that Cameron has now brought aboard Josh Friedman, to further assist him with rewriting and fine-turning the Avatar 2 screenplay, ahead of filming possibly getting underway later this year (at the earliest). Friedman did not immediately respond to The Wrap's request for a comment; meanwhile, Avatar producer Jon Landau offered a non-comment comment, by saying "I would not comment on 'Avatar 2' one way or the other way." (Feel free to take a brief moment and wrap your brain around the world of evasive producers' statements before reading on).
However, it makes sense for Cameron to bring someone like Friedman aboard - where it concerns the task of retooling the Avatar 2 script. Friedman is the creator of the cult TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so Cameron already knows the former can be trusted to do something interesting with his original sci-fi creations ("interesting" here meaning "better than the 3rd/4th movie sequels to Terminator 1"). Moreover, Friedman wrote the story for the dumb-but-fun Keanu Reeves' sci-fi thriller Chain Reaction and he co-penned the script for director Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds adaptation - so, again, Friedman knows his way around big-concept sci-fi material.
Cameron is writing Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 together, but has already said that he is approaching each script as a separate story - so that Avatar 2 will have "a sense of conclusion, but a sense that the journey will continue" - rather than attempting to carry-over a narrative arc through the second and third films. It's a smart decision on his part, given the spotty track record of success for previous genre blockbuster sequels that were constructed in such a fashion (see: Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest/At World's End).
Similarly, Cameron's method should allow Friedman to concentrate on refining the script for Avatar 2, without necessarily having to worry and get bogged down in setting up developments in Avatar 3; that also still leaves the door open for him to re-collaborate with Cameron on the third movie's script thereafter, if the pair so chooses to do so. Hopefully, when all is said and done, the Avatar sequel will have a meaningful and well-crafted plot to go along with what are sure to be game-changing underwater performance capture sequences.
Avatar 2 is expected to begin principal photography by late 2013/early 2014 for a 2015 release date, so be sure and keep you eyes peeled for additional updates on the Screen Rant homepage over the forthcoming months.
Source: The Wrap