I’m extremely curious about James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar sequels for a bunch of different reasons. I didn’t much care for the story of the first one (which Cameron himself wrote), but the world-building and visuals Cameron pioneered were astonishing; in these sequels, he won’t be writing them himself – he’s hired three writers to collaborate with him to come up with the overarching storyline for the next three movies, and then he’ll be co-writing each film with one of those writers. Will the stories be better this time out? I hope so. He’ll also be filming all three films back to back to back, which is the largest filmmaking undertaking since Peter Jackson directed all three Lord of the Rings movies back in the late 90s/early 2000s, so that’s another interesting element of this equation.
I’m also curious from a business standpoint because the first movie is the highest grossing film in history, and I’m fascinated with the idea of waiting seven years to release a sequel. Will audiences still care about visiting Pandora again by then? Avatar was obviously a smash hit in 2009, but technology has improved since then and the studios have become even more reliant on blockbusters and spectacle in the ensuing years. Will they be “special” enough to pull in the big numbers the studio is hoping for?
Variety recently profiled 20th Century Fox head honcho Jim Gianopulos, who spoke a bit about the upcoming films:
We know it’s going to be a long journey. We know it’s not going to be cheap. We know it’s not going to be without new discoveries and new challenges in the process of producing something that is so beyond the normal form of filmmaking and technology, but what could be more exciting than that.
“Not going to be cheap” is right, since some reports have indicated that the budget for these three films is around a billion dollars. That’s insane on one level, but if they are all worldwide successes like the first film was, everyone stands to make a lot of money.
And in that same piece, Cameron himself gave a small update:
There’s nothing I need to say as an artist about the state of the world and human affairs that I can’t do through the lens of the ‘Avatar’ universe. We’ve had a couple of years to think through the story arc of the next three films, and every day that goes by, I believe in the stories I’m telling more and more. We’re not coming out of the block fast to capitalize on the last film.
Well, he’s right about that last part – they’re certainly not moving quickly. But I suppose if he hopes the Avatar films are going to one day be as beloved as the Star Wars movies (as he’s said in interviews before), then it’s better to take his time and make sure the scripts are in order before they get rolling. It sounds like that’s exactly what he’s doing by hiring those writers, and we’ll see the fruits of their labor in December of 2016 when Avatar 2 hits theaters.
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