Since the first Avatar film took 14 years of planning and execution to make it to the big screen in 2009, it's not too surprising that director James Cameron has been taking his time with the return to Pandora and the spiritual Na'vi people. Filming all three sequels at once requires an immense amount of preparation, particularly considering that Cameron is working with four other screenwriters to create the full story arc for a new Avatar movie trilogy.
Cameron's desire is to once again dazzle audiences with a level of effects and world-building they haven't seen before, and with a lengthy delay after his original film, fans will have high expectations. The director's ambitious plans for the visuals includes shooting at a high frame rate and using underwater motion capture for a totally unique view of the fictional moon Pandora. Previously slated for a Christmas 2016 release, the first sequel was pushed back once already, though it looks like it's on track for its rescheduled date.
Earlier this year, 20th Century Fox chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos projected that Avatar 2 would debut at Christmas 2017. In a recent interview with the Montreal Gazette, Cameron confirmed that we should see the first sequel in two years.
"Christmas of '17 is the target. At least, that's what we’ve announced. But I don't consider that to be as important as the fact that when we get all three films done, we drop them a year apart. I call it a meta-narrative that runs across the three movies. Each film stands alone, but it also tells one much larger story."
In his previous descriptions of the project, the director stressed how cohesive he wanted the storyline to be. He didn't even assign writers Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Shane Salerno (Savages), and duo Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) to their own individual sequels until they'd all worked out the entire plot together. As they created the story, Cameron simultaneously started work on bringing that vision to the screen.
"We have design more or less finished, which is an enormous task. It’s been about a two-year task. (We’ve finished) all the creatures and the landscapes, and the new worlds within the world of Pandora that you see. The writing is ongoing, but almost finished. Technical development is done. Stages are done. Infrastructure. So we're really poised to start after the first of the year."
Despite being open about the process, Cameron hasn't revealed much about the plot of the follow-up films. We know that main characters Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) will return, and Avatar 2 will explore indigenous ocean cultures on Pandora. Though her character Dr. Grace Augustine died in the first movie, actress Sigourney Weaver revealed she'll be appearing in a transformed state in all three sequels. Stephen Lang's Colonel Quaritch will also return from the dead in the sequels.
Though it sounds like a lot of the work is done, it wouldn't be surprising if the massive scope of this project pushed the release dates back again. As Cameron says, the one thing we can count on is that once the first film lands, the next two should follow staggered a year apart. Avatar 2 ma finally hit the big screen in Christmas 2017, but unforeseen delays or too much competition in December could push the trilogy kick-off back to 2018 instead.
Avatar 2 is projected for a Christmas 2017 release in theaters, followed by Avatar 3 in 2018 and Avatar 4 in 2019.
Source: Montreal Gazette