It's been seven years since director James Cameron first took us to the magical world of Pandora with his blockbuster Avatar breaking box office records left and right, earning a worldwide total of $2.7 billion that still hasn't been beaten, not even by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since then, the filmmaker has been quite busy prepping his sequels, which keep expanding more and more. While it was originally supposed to be a trilogy, the filmmaker announced in April that Avatar 5 is now happening, with Avatar 2 being pushed to a December 2018 release date. During an appearance at Comic-Con over the weekend, the director tried to explain why the world of Pandora keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The filmmaker reunited with Sigourney Weaver and producer Gale Anne Hurd for a 30th Anniversary panel celebrating Aliens. After the panel, Variety caught up with James Cameron, who revealed why his movie trilogy has expanded to five movies. Here's what the filmmaker had to say below.
"The Avatar story arc was originally meant to be a trilogy, but I overwrite, and my writers overwrote as well. But basically the first of the sequels cloned itself and became two films, so now it's four films. And the studio's very happy with it. They have an opportunity to make more money, but it's also an opportunity to spend a lot more money, too, so there's a clench factor."
The filmmaker also revealed at Comic-Con that he's trying to set up the production schedule so he can release one of his sequels a year, starting in 2018 with Avatar 2, but he isn't sure if that's possible or not. The filmmaker was also asked if he has considered taking his franchise to the small screen at any point in time. James Cameron revealed that it might be possible with an animated series. Here's what he had to say below.
"You could with animation. If you found a style of animation with it that Lucas did with the Clone Wars animated series, then you could do it. But to maintain the production value - it's not like just getting good actors. The Sarah Connor Chronicles, they got some good actors and they did some scaled-down production value. But you can't do scaled-down production value for Avatar. One minute of an Avatar close-up of Jake or Neytiri or any of the other characters is like a million-plus dollars, even if there's nothing happening in the shot. So do the math. It just doesn't work for television."
The filmmaker revealed in April that Avatar 2 is coming in 2018, Avatar 3 is set to arrive two years later in 2020, and then Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 arrive back-to-back in 2022 and 2023. No definitive release dates have been given yet, but the filmmaker also teased another possible method to expand his franchise, through audio podcasts and other radio dramas. Here's what he had to say below.
"Radio dramas could fill in and create detail. I think that with all the drive time people have, if they can learn more about the characters and their backstory and the things that are happening off-camera in the movies, that's a pretty fun idea and I could get some writers in there. So there are ways to expand it, but TV is not one."
We reported in February that production was supposed to start this spring in New Zealand on Avatar 2, but then in April, we learned that Avatar 2 was pushed out of its December 2017 release date and pushed into December 2018, so now we don't know when production will start. It was originally believed that James Cameron would try to shoot all of his sequels at the same time, but now that his franchise has expanded to four huge sequels, we don't know if that's still the plan. Stay tuned for more on these Avatar sequels as soon as more information is released.