There's not one, not two, but three sequels to James Cameron's Avatar currently in pre-production and while it may take a while before the first of the followups opens in cinemas around the world, fans can follow more Avatar stories and learn more about Pandora much sooner.
Today at New York Comic-Con, James Cameron made an appearance (via video) during the Dark Horse Comics panel to announce a long-term partnership with the comics publisher. Building off a relationship that began with comics based on the Terminator moves, Dark Horse will be making Avatar comics for the next decade.
The video comes from Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment production company where they're working away on Avatar 2, 3, and 4 and the bigger surprise surrounding the announcement is that it didn't come sooner. It's hard to believe but it was nearly six years ago already when the long-in-development Avatar opened in theaters to break every box office record imaginable.
"I'm excited that starting now, even before the release of the first sequel, Dark Horse Comics will be bringing you new adventures from Pandora covering the time before, during, and after the events of the original Avatar film.
For the past 27 years, Dark Horse has been associated with my films The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss. Now they’re working directly with me and our team at Lightstorm [Entertainment] in an unprecedented 10-year partnership that’s going to create new stories that will take you deeper into the world of Avatar.”
The official tie-in comics serve not only to flesh out the world of Pandora and the universe James Cameron will be exploring in the sequels, but will continue the story of the first film, presumably bridging the gap between the first movie and the second. Maybe it'll help explain how Sigourney Weaver will return, and "transform" between films.
New York Comic-Con attendees can stop by the Dark Horse Comics booth to pick up a free (and exclusive) Avatar cover print with art by Dave Wilkins (seen above).
The news comes on the heels of How to Train Your Dragon also getting a graphic novel series at Dark Horse Comics from the people behind the films. It'll be co-written by writer/director Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2) and Richard Hamilton (Dragons: Race to the Edge) with cover art by How to Train Your Dragon 2 production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent. And just like with Avatar, the first book ("How to Train Your Dragon: The Serpent's Heir") - releasing in 2016 - will pick up right from where the second movie ended and continue the story.
Dark Horse also unveiled at NYCC "Aliens: Defiance", a new comic series that launches in April 2016 that fills the gap between the original Alien and its followup, Aliens.
But it's not just Dark Horse jumping into the realm of shared universe though - IDW Comics is also launching a multi-year Transformers comics event dubbed the "Prime Wars Trilogy" that'll share the same continuity as upcoming Activision video games and Hasbro toy lines. The strategy is seemingly building off of the efforts of Paramount Pictures to blow out their film franchise by bringing in a large writer's room of top industry talent to plan out a bigger, interconnected cinematic universe based on the Marvel Studios model.
Avatar 2 is expected to hit theaters in December 2017, followed by Avatar 3 in late 2018 and Avatar 4 in 2019.