The first Avatar movie took the movie world by a storm when it hit the theatres in 2009. It was a huge CGI spectacle and 3D extravaganza. It smashed all box office records making $2.79 billion worldwide and James Cameron broke his own previous record which was with Titanic. It has been almost 9 years since then and the first of the upcoming 4 sequels of the movie is still more than 2 years away. So, the fans have been wondering that why is it taking James Cameron so much to make these follow-ups.
The first Avatar movie that actually broke the box office also took more than 5 years of predevelopment before it went under-production. Since the movie made so much, Cameron and Fox announced two sequels to the movie. Well, this did not come as a surprise at all as Cameron had been talking about plans to make the film a franchise if the first one was successful enough all the way back in 2006. But what was surprising was that the number of sequels for the movie kept on increasing and now, 4 sequels to the movie have release dates.
Until the last year, there were only talks about the upcoming sequels as they were in the development stage and we only had rumors in the wind as the production kept on getting delayed time after time. Well thankfully, now 2 of the upcoming 4 movies are finally in the production stages as the production kicked off last Summer.
James Cameron, the visionary director of Avatar franchise had this to say:
“What people have to understand is that this is a cadence of releases. So we’re not making ‘Avatar 2’. We’re making ‘Avatar 2,’ 3, 4 and 5. I know where I’m going to be for the next eight years of my life. It’s not an unreasonable time frame if you think about it. It took us four-and-a-half years to make one movie and now we’re making four. The thing is, my focus isn’t on Avatar 2. My focus is on Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5 equally. That’s exactly how I’m approaching it. They’ve all been developed equally”
“I’ve just finished the script to Avatar 5. I’m now starting the process of active prep. I’ll be working with the actors in the capture volume in August, so I’m booked in production every day between now and then.”
“The important thing for me is not when the first one comes out but the cadence of the release pattern. I want them to be released as close together as possible. If it’s an annual appointment to show up at Christmas, I want to make sure that we’re able to fulfill on that promise.”
But then he changed his stance and hinted that Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 is dependent on the box office performance of Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. Here is what he said:
“Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, ‘Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.’ Even though that all worked and everybody did.”
The upcoming 2 sequels will come out in December 2020, and 2021. It’s funny as these two movies were earlier intended to hit the theatres in 2014 and 2015. The dates which are now set up could also get delayed because of the Disney Fox merger that is likely to wrap up the deal until next year.
Many people now believe that these movies may be a little late in the game as the big studios are capitalizing more in the Superhero genre and the Star Wars franchise, so the movie’s franchise possibilities – and its position as a cultural landmark may have already passed. So, why wait this long to give the audiences what they have been wanting for more than 8 years.
Well, the answer to this is that the entire Avatar Franchise is a big CGI-Laden movie phenomenon, and getting this right actually takes time. The first movie took its time and turned out to be worth the wait, so you can either risk rushing out a product to meet that fleeting demand and making a bad movie or you can take your time to build something really big and strong. This would surely have been the major thought process going on with Fox. Also, many studio changes had been going on during all this time, and waiting for these sequels would have just been the right idea at that point of time.
Well, Cameron is one of the few directors left in the industry that takes his time to work on a project. The recent trend of rushed movie productions, like the ones in the Superhero genre, does not interest Cameron as he has decided to take his time with the Avatar sequels and not be rushed by distributor demands. Well, this seems to be the right thing to do as if the movies that are being worked so much upon must be having something big to show to us. So if the product is perfect, it will sell no matter what.
In his recent interviews, James Cameron revealed how challenging the filming of Avatar 2 and 3 has been as he has been shooting various underwater sequences for the movie. Here’s what he said:
“Well, we’re doing it. It’s never been done before and it’s very tricky because our motion capture system, like most motion capture systems, is what they call optical base, meaning that it uses markers that are photographed with hundreds of cameras. The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror. That moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers, and it creates a bunch of false markers. It’s a little bit like a fighter plane dumping a bunch of chaff to confuse the radar system of a missile. It creates thousands of false targets, so we’ve had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did. Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets ten times harder. So, we’ve thrown a lot of horsepower, innovation, imagination and new technology at the problem, and it’s taken us about a year and a half now to work out how we’re going to do it.”
On the timeline, James Cameron had this to say:
“It was a seven-year gap between The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, seven-year gap between Alien and Aliens. It’s gonna be obviously more like a 10-year gap between Avatar and Avatar 2. But Avatar 2 you are going to with not the promise, but the certainty, of three more films beyond that, and that’s a very different concept with the audience”.
The producer Jon Landau described the four sequels as set of movies that exudes brilliance and genius. Here is what he said:
“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 centre of each of our four movies will be the Sully family. Each sequel will play as a standalone 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.”
Avatar 2 sounds pretty exciting and will hit the theatres in December 2020 followed by a sequel in December 2021. The Avatar sequel cast includes returning guys such as Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Grace Augustine) and Stephen Lang (Miles Quaritch) along with a set of newcomers like Oona Chaplin (Taboo) and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead). This will be the biggest, grandest sci-fi adventure that will surely create history. With Cameron’s vision and an amazing cast & crew, we are looking at one hell of a showdown.