There are several big movies that were planning to shoot in and around Japan in the next year, but in the light of the recent earthquake/tsunami tragedy, and the continuing dangers plaguing the region, it's unthinkable that anyone could hope to launch a major Hollywood production there anytime soon.
20th Century Fox currently currently has two major films that were slated to be in production the Pacific region: the comic book movie sequel The Wolverine and Avatar 2, the sequel to James Cameron's 3D mega-smash hit.
Everything started out so well for The Wolverine. The film had its script written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and would feature the highly acclaimed Wolverine in Japan storyline from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1980s comic book miniseries. Star Hugh Jackman was excited to be doing the sequel, and even wanted to correct some the mistakes that were made in Wolverine 1. When Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky joined the film, the possibility of Marvel's mightiest mutant having a film that was both a financial and critical (Oscar-worthy?) success seemed very real.
Flash-forward to now and the fate of The Wolverine is questionable. Aronofsky left the project citing scheduling issues (though more sinister rumors about his relationship with Fox are starting to unfold); but of course the larger and more important concern is the tragedy in Japan - where The Wolverine was slated to conduct its principal shoot.
With no director and no certainty about shooting locations, Wolverine 2 is currently on standby. In fact, EW is exclusively reporting that due to the multiple setbacks the film has suffered, the studio is opting to "let it air out a bit" before they think about a new director. Meanwhile, The Playlist speculates that the combination of behind-the-scenes issues and the disaster in Japan could bump the film from its 2012 release date, as far back as 2013.
In the case of The Wolverine, I feel like the Japanese setting (characters and actors) are so crucial to the themes of the story that it would almost be more worthwhile to wait and see if plans to film in the Japan region may be salvaged at a later date. I'm sure that at that later point it would also be just as beneficial to the Japanese economy to host some big-budget movie productions, so we'll see.
The big selling point of Avatar 2 has been James Cameron's claims that the film will explore the oceans of Pandora. In fact, the director - as ambitious and meticulous as he is - had even floated the idea of diving into the Mariana Trench, the deepest known part of the world, which is located in the Pacific Ocean (to the Southeast of Japan). There, Cameron planned to do research and filming on the trench that he would use to create the underwater world of Pandora, using new 3D camera technology that would allow him to film in the treacherous deep-sea environment.
Obviously, with major earthquakes and tsunamis striking the region (and continued seismographic instability), Cameron's dive is now a risky venture. Corona Coming Attractions has a source claiming that Fox is not willing to risk the potential danger to the divers and even Cameron himself, as the insurance coverage for such an expedition is now too high, given recent developments. The fact that aftershocks from the quakes could continue to keep the region unstable for years to come is also not a promising sign. Needless to say, Cameron may have to rethink his approach to the Avatar sequel.
SIDENOTE: Of course movie making is of little importance in the face of such a great tragedy. If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to help relief efforts in Japan, visit The Red Cross website.
For now, we'll keep you updated on the development schedules and revisions to both The Wolverine and Avatar 2.
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