Production for the upcoming Avatar sequels will officially begin this September. The budding franchise will tackle on the follow-up narrative to James Cameron's 2009 Avatar and will see the return of Sam Worthington as Jake Sully. The plan to build an epic saga will add four more films in the series, which will potentially run until 2025 with the direct sequel hitting theaters December of 2020.
The sequels have had a lot of scheduling setbacks over the last couple of years. Prior to the reveal of a September production kick-off, work was supposed to start this August with an announced principal photography session set in Manhattan Beach, California with Cameron even announcing that treatment for all the four films has already been completed. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case as a full month's worth of delay has ensued with work now officially starting by September.
Speaking at 20th Century Fox’s presentation at the ongoing annual CineEurope gathering in Barcelona, Lightstorm Entertainment Jon Landau provided an update on when exactly the Avatar sequels will head into production. Stating that current schedule indicates they will get the ball rolling starting September 25, 2017, the executive appeased fans by explaining the complexities of building a sci-fi franchise like what Avatar is doing. He also gave a vote of confidence to Cameron saying that the director “has done a couple of sequels before in his career and I would argue that those sequels have lived up to, if not exceeded, the original movies.”
Landau continued by giving a little bit of context to where we might find the main players of the Avatar movies when the direct sequel picks up, reiterating that although this is set in a futuristic backdrop, the central theme will still boil down to family.
“At the heart of any movie are the characters. One of the strengths of great scripts are always the universal and relatable themes… There’s no more relatable theme than family. At the center of each of our four movies will be the Sully family. Each sequel will play as a stand-alone movie. Each movie’s story will come to its own conclusion… However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger connected epic saga for audiences around the world.”
While it is definitely interesting to see what Cameron has in store in terms of introducing technological advancements in filmmaking (he previously said he was looking to tap into glasses-free 3D presentations), it is great to hear that folks involved in the project are trying to ground the film in a way that goes beyond its visual presentation. Cameron can do iconic characters quite well, case in point: Titanic, and he can certainly elevate Jake and Neytiri to Jack and Rose status given the right story.
Aside from Saldana and Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang are also set to return to the franchise, although with both actors' previous characters having already died in the original Avatar film, it is uncertain how they will get back into the fold. Joel Moore is also set to come back, while Game of Thrones actor Oona Chaplin is set to board the epic sci-fi sequels.