Exclusive: ‘Avatar’ Sequels Begin Filming Live-Action Sequences This Spring in New Zealand

     February 7, 2019

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Fans have been curious about James Cameron’s Avatar sequels since before the first Avatar even came out. Fresh off of the success of Titanic, Cameron was teasing a potential trilogy of Avatar movies in the mid-2000s, while he was knee-deep in creating the technology that would not only bring Avatar to life, but boost the film to become the highest grossing movie ever made. As we now know, those plans changed after Avatar was released, and there are now a whopping four Avatar sequels on the way.

Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will be released in 2020 and 2021 respectively, while Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 are due to be released in 2023 and 2024. We know that filming finally took place last year with Cameron directing, but producer Jon Landau gave us a hefty update on the sequels during a recent IMAX Q&A for Alita: Battle Angel, hosted by Collider.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Landau revealed that while “principal capture” (aka the performance-capture portion) of two of the sequels is now complete, they still have to film the live-action portions—which will be done in New Zealand and likely involve the recently cast Edie Falco:

“We have completed our principal capture on Avatar 2, 3, and part of 4. We’re going to do our live-action filming in New Zealand in the spring of this year. We just announced today that we’ve cast Edie Falco to play General Ardmore, who is the head of the RDA forces. In typical Jim [Cameron] fashion he finds this powerful woman to play what could be very easily a male role if people were just to read the script.”

The producer confirmed that all four sequel scripts were completed before filming began, which is why it took so long for the films to get off the ground:

“That’s what we waited for. We needed to have all the scripts done before we embarked on production. We needed to understand where the characters were going. Not only did we need to understand it, our cast needed to understand it. Our cast playing these roles needed to understand decisions they were making in movies 2 and 3, how it would affect them in movie 4. Because if they didn’t, they might not bring the same thing to it. So we waited to complete all four scripts before we ever embarked on doing the project.”

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Landau also offered some tantalizing details about the geography of the sequels, revealing that they will mostly all take place on Pandora as a way to drive home the environmentalist metaphors as the franchise relates to Earth:

“We also made the decision on the sequels to do everything really based on Pandora. There are times when other science-fiction movies, if they want water, they go to the ocean planet. If they want snow, they go to the ice planet. We realized that if we looked at Earth, we could spend our whole life traveling the globe and not see all of the wonders that Earth holds. Let’s do that on Pandora. Let Pandora really truly be that metaphor where we get to go see all these incredible different environments that Pandora holds. But just as importantly, as we go throughout the sequels we’re gonna meet new clans with very diverse cultures. Because our world, we’re a melting pot. In the first movie, we really only met one clan, the Omaticaya. But if a clan has lived forever on the oceans, they’re culturally gonna be very different than a clan that has lived in the rainforest, and we wanna present that in the movies as well.”

That’s an intriguing idea that makes a lot of sense, and it’ll be interesting to see just how visually diverse these four sequels get. As Landau points out, you could go to various points on Earth and encounter wildly different people and topography, so it’ll be interesting to see that translated to a sci-fi planet.

Look for more Avatar info from our Q&A with Landau on Collider soon, and click here to watch the full Q&A from IMAX headquarters.

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