With the upcoming re-release of James Cameron's Avatar only a few weeks away, there's been renewed interest in every last morsel of information regarding Avatar 2. Cameron has previously indicated that the sequel will delve into regions of Pandora unexplored in the first film (specifically the planet's oceans) and that he has no intentions of rushing into it.
Despite the fact that Avatar 2 is still several years away, it turns out it might not be too soon to start speculating over Avatar 3 as well.
In an interview with MTV, Cameron reveals that he's talked to the studio about shooting back-to-back sequels - so that they can capture the performances for both films all at once.
So far the only information we've heard on Avatar 3 is that it may widen the scope to include other planets in the Alpha Centauri AB system. Cameron obviously has a grand design for the larger story and now he might be fleshing out the details sooner than initially expected:
"We’re actually talking about [doing 2 and 3] back to back. That’s not a decision yet but that’s something that makes a lot of sense given the nature of these productions because we can bank all the capture and go back and do cameras over a period of time... cause the way these sort of back to back productions fall apart is you're trying to do two live-action films back to back and you're working on it for like a year and a half shooting. Everybody's dead- it's not humanly possible. But this type of film it absolutely would work."
Considering the amount of time in-between films, the availability of the actors, and the cost involved with mounting two separate productions - shooting the motion capture elements for Avatar 2 & 3 at the same time certainly seems like a smart solution. Cameron's still waiting for an official deal to be made with Fox but let's face it - Avatar 2 is inevitable and given the success of the first film it seems unlikely that the studio wouldn't be interested in investing in future installments as well. I have no doubt the ink will be dry on all the necessary contracts soon enough.
Cameron also discussed his Avatar novel which he promises will be more than just a tie-in novelization of the film. In fact, it sounds as if he's hoping it will be the first step in allowing other artists to expand the mythology of the film's universe:
"Ideally that becomes a kind of bible for any other writers that want to come along and riff off of it with other Avatar-based stories, which I'm not ruling out. I don't mind opening up the universe - I just don't want that to happen until I've got more meat on the bones."
Cameron admits that Avatar skips over the details regarding what happened on Earth, The Company's history on Pandora, and the back stories of certain characters. These are all issues the novel will tackle - in addition to really fleshing out the specifics of the Na'vi culture. Cameron doesn't say when we might see the novel, only that he's been hard at work - and had originally hoped to have it ready before Avatar's release.
The majority of the criticism leveled against Avatar centered around what many considered to be a simplistic and predictable story. However, there's no denying that Cameron created a world that captivated audiences and left many fans eager to return - and experience it over and over again. With the introductory story out of the way, I'm really looking forward to seeing how he plans on expanding the narrative - and seeing if further installments will be as dense thematically as they are visually.
Cameron is a fiercely intelligent man and I've always been a fan of his work and the potential for Avatar 2 to be one of those rare sequels that's better than the original seems well within his grasp.