Even though Avatar lacks an active fanbase (especially when compared to other blockbusters), we will be getting three sequels to James Cameron‘s technologically revolutionary, narratively stale 2009 film. The first of these sequels was set to be released in 2016 with a new sequel following in 2017 and then 2018. I’ll give Cameron this: he’s always ambitious, and since he’s clearly enamored with the world of Pandora, I assume there are plenty of places he wants to go, so one film wouldn’t be enough to accommodate his vision.
But that vision still needs some work according to the director, who says that the Avatar sequels will be pushed back a year. Hit the jump for more, and click here for Steve’s interview with Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, who talked about working on the sequels.
Speaking in New Zealand—where he shot the original and will shoot the sequels—Cameron said [via Yahoo!], “There’s a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don’t get when you’re making a stand-alone film,” and that his plan to get the first of the sequels out by December 2016 was “probably too ambitious.”
Although Cameron says that his team of screenwriters (who are writing the sequels simultaneously) should have completed scripts by the end of the month, the director’s prudence makes sense. The new Avatar trilogy will be a monumental task since he’s planning to shoot all three at once and push the bounds of filmmaking technology yet again. Even if he spent all of 2015 shooting the film, the amount of visual effects required would put the director in an unnecessary time crunch, especially since no one is clamoring for more Avatar films. This isn’t Star Wars where a studio needs the movie ASAP to appease shareholders, and Cameron has the clout to make films on his own schedule.
Cameron also explained why the pre-production process on the new Avatar movies is so intensive:
“We’re writing three simultaneously. And we’ve done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films. We’re not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that,” he said. “And parallel with that, we’re doing all the design. So we’ve designed all the creatures and the environments.”
He added that while it was important for the movies to be linked, he also wanted each one to have a satisfying conclusion rather than provide two cliffhangers. I assume that could be in the vein of the first film where Jake Sully wakes up fully tied to his Navi body, and that opens the door for new adventures, but it’s also a resolution the audience can accept.
But will the audience accept more Avatar? We should know by now to never underestimate Cameron, and perhaps Avatar 2 will create a fresh wave of nostalgia and curiosity, but will it be enough to retain the audience for Avatar 3 and Avatar 4?