James Cameron has made it known that he's in the business of making Avatar sequels in the foreseeable future (and nothing else). Sigourney Weaver recently let the cat out of the bag that Cameron is also toying with the idea of shooting not two, but three Avatar movies back-to-back, in order to keep expenditures low and handle possible actor scheduling conflicts that could crop up between breaks in filming.
The latest reports on Avatar 2 confirm producer Jon Landau's assessment that the sequel probably won't make a December 2014 date (tentatively set by 20th Century Fox). In fact, moviegoers shouldn't anticipate a return trip to the exotic extraterrestrial realms of Pandora until 2015, at the earliest.
A New York Times article detailing Cameron's purchase of 2,500 acres of farmland around Lake Pounui in New Zealand (for a "tidy" sum of $16 million) mentions that a good chunk of Avatar 2 and subsequent installments will "almost certainly" be shot at Peter Jackson's Wellington production studios. It's there that Weta will be doing the necessary digital effects-rendering required to bring 9-foot tall Na'vi to life (following the completion of performance-capture work at Cameron's sound stages in Manhattan Beach, California).
Cameron may be armed with a massive team of animation/effects supervisors on the project, but the indication is that it's simply not logistically feasible for Avatar 2 to fulfill the filmmaker's demands to push the boundaries of technology - including, underwater motion-capture for sequences set within the oceans of Pandora - and meet his high standards, in time for the 2014 date (that calls for at least an additional year of rendering and refining the visuals).
It's... admirable how Cameron is intent on delivering an Avatar sequel that proves as innovative on a technological level as its monstrously-successful predecessor (as far as the box office is concerned). That aside, one has to wonder how long the public's patience can be tested, as the first installment features a self-contained narrative that didn't exactly leave the moviegoing masses desperate to find out what happens next in the ongoing saga of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). It was ultimately the cutting-edge spectacle and 3D effects that drew people to Avatar, allowing it to gross more than $2.7 billion worldwide in theaters and snag 3 Oscars (as recognition for its technical accomplishments).
Of course, the obvious counter-argument is that, yes, the demand for Avatar 2 is based primarily on the hope that it'll be as mind-blowing as Cameron's first movie (from a technological standpoint). Thus, it makes sense for the filmmaker to take his sweet time in ensuring that goal is accomplished.
We'll keep you updated on Avatar 2 as the story develops.
Source: New York Times