It feels like the Avatar sequels have been in production for decades. Ever since it was announced that James Cameron was making multiple sequels to his 2009 blockbuster, fans have been eager to get more details about what the filmmaker has planned for expanding the world of the alien planet Pandora revealed in the original. And as a set photo released on Twitter shows us, Cameron is hard at work bringing the project to fruition:
The Avatar 2 photo was taken by producer Jon Landeau and shows the crew of the movie filming a scene that involves a lot of water. This is in keeping with previous rumors that a large portion of Avatar 2 will take place underwater. We see Cameron holding a 3d camera while filming a shot, with his assistants holding up various other parts of the equipment.
There are wave machines in the back to stimulate a stormy sea, a fire blazing in the background and some exploded set pieces in the center, indicating that something has gone horribly wrong within the narrative of the scene. It is a tantalizing piece of filmmaking for fans to chew on as they wait for the movie to finally finish filming and get released in theaters.
The first Avatar movie was the highest-grossing movie in history for a very long time, grossing over 2.8 billion dollars, with only the MCU's latest Avengers film managing to break the record after a decade's worth of films leading up to Avengers: Endgame. Cameron managed to achieve that unheard-of feat with only the first film in his Avatar Cinematic Universe, thanks largely to 3d special effects in his films that were the very best of their time.
With the sequels, it remains to be seen whether Cameron will continue to rely on special effects wizardry to impress audiences, or he will also make efforts to come up with a more interesting storyline since the narrative aspect of the original Avatar was largely seen as unoriginal and lackluster.
Avatar 2 has had its release date pushed back several times now, from 2015, to 2020 and now finally December 17, 2021. The production of the movie has been plagued with one problem after another, meaning that the memory of the first film will have had more than a decade to slip out of the minds of the audiences. This will make it difficult to care about the characters from the original film whose story we will follow in the sequels.
Stacked against such negative odds is the fact that this is James Cameron's passion project, the filmmaker who has been responsible for such iconic films as The Terminator and its sequel and Titanic, before making box-office history with Avatar. Cameron has talked about pushing the technological envelope even further with the sequel, like using higher frame rates while filming and employing underwater motion capture. It will be interesting to see if the same approach to filmmaking that catapulted Avatar to success will also work for the sequels.