Yesterday we got a bit of an update on the long-promised sequels to writer/director James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar, but it turns out there’s much more to the story. Cameron has been working on two follow-up films to the sci-fi pic over the last four years, with an eye towards filming both Avatar 2 and 3 at the same time and then releasing the sequels a year apart. While last we heard Cameron was holed up in New Zealand finalizing the scripts for the sequels, news broke yesterday that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman had been enlisted to pitch in on the screenplay for Avatar 2. It just so happens that this was only one third of the story, as Fox announced today that Cameron has actually enlisted the help of four screenwriters to collaborate with him on the screenplays for not only Avatar 2 and 3, but also Avatar 4, with the first sequel poised to hit theaters (finally) in December 2016. Hit the jump for much more.
Fox announced today that not only will Cameron now film three Avatar sequels simultaneously, but he has hired screenwriters Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages) to collaborate with him on the screenplays in order to “help bring his growing Avatar universe to life and to expedite the process.” This is a major development with regards to the proposed Avatar follow-ups, and Fox notes that Avatar 2 will be released in December 2016, Avatar 3 will hit theaters in December 2017, and Avatar 4 will follow a year later. Yes indeed, a trio of Avatar films are heading our way beginning in just a few short years.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard word about Avatar 4, as Cameron previously teased the the potential fourth film would be a prequel that explores the colonization process of Pandora. Whether that’s still the plan is unknown, but we now know that Fox is guaranteed to make a shitload of money with three sequels officially in the pipeline.
“Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired - to join me in completing the films screenplays.”
It’s not specifically stated in the press release, but one assumes that Friedman, Jaffa & Silver, and Salerno will each be assigned a specific sequel on which to collaborate. Jaffa & Silver most recently penned the script for the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and also wrote the upcoming Jurassic Park IV. As for Salerno, his directorial debut hits theaters later this year by way of the documentary Salinger.
Cameron hasn’t shared a screenplay credit on any of his directorial features since 1994’s True Lies, so it’s certainly telling that he has opened up the Avatar world to include four more voices. Given that Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time with a worldwide total of $2.7 billion, Fox has been eager to get the Avatar sequels off the ground for some time now. Bringing in some screenwriting help to get these things moving might just be the momentum Cameron needs in order to finally get the follow-ups in front of cameras. Whether three additional Avatar films is entirely necessary, however, is another question altogether. Hopefully Cameron makes the extensive trek back into Pandora worthwhile, since these will likely tie him up from working on any other films until 2018 at the absolute earliest—though he has said previously that he only wants to make Avatar movies from here on out.
What do you think, dear readers? Are you excited about the prospect of three Avatar sequels? What areas of Pandora would you like to see explored? Sound off in the comments below.