James Cameron Used 'Dark Angel' Experience to Write 'Avatar' Sequels

At the LA Times Hero Complex Film Festival, writer/director James Cameron explained his writing process for the three 'Avatar' sequels.

James Cameron Used TV Experience to Write Avatar Scripts

After the record-breaking box office success of James Cameron’s Avatar, speculation of a possible sequel - and sequels - began immediately. Four years later, Fox confirmed that the highest-grossing film in history would be getting not one, not two, but three sequels to be released over three years starting in December 2016.

With shooting on the films scheduled to begin in the fall, Cameron revealed in a Reddit AMA that development on all three sequels has been simultaneous, including script writing and new creature and character design work. In a recent interview, Cameron went into more specific details with regard to his writing process.

/Film reported that at the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex Film Festival, Cameron explained he wrote 1,500 pages of notes about the world and cultures of Pandora in the first year of development (which may help Steven Charles Gould pen the four standalone Avatar novels).

Then, Cameron hired four writers to develop the scripts: Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem). Cameron said the cooperative process was inspired by his time working on the FOX television series Dark Angel:

I knew I was going to have to “parallel process” which meant I would have to work with other writers. And the best experience I had working with other writers was in television when I did 'Dark Angel.' The television room is a highly collaborative, fun experience.

Sam Worthington in Avatar

Each writer or writing team was assigned to a single movie, tasked with developing the script while Cameron divided his time across all three sequels. The whole team often met together and discussed their films in order to form a cohesive overarching storyline to the trilogy.

Cameron said:

But what we did that was unique was we sat in the writing room for five months, eight hours a day, and we worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one (sort of) three-film saga.

Living up to the major box office success of the original Avatar is a tough feat to accomplish, but creating three films instead of one is a much bigger challenge, especially considering sequels usually decline in quality - though Cameron has bucked that trend more than once.

Zoe Saldana in Avatar

However, Cameron’s “parallel process” and television writers' room style is an indication that the writing team is giving equal effort to all three sequels. Additionally, the quick successive release dates have worked for franchises such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games.

Will Cameron’s writing process lead to a highly successful trilogy surpassing even Avatar at the box office? There’s no way to tell until the films debut in theater starting in 2016. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Avatar 2 is scheduled for release in December 2016, followed by Avatar 3 in 2017 and Avatar 4 in 2018.

Source: /Film

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