James Cameron was recently interviewed by Famous Monsters of Filmland, and he dropped quite a bit of new information about the upcoming Avatar sequels. He explains that the four movies will not be shot back-to-back, but simutaneously. He also reveals why the sequels have a new release strategy, saying that to open against a Star Wars sequel would just be plain 'stupid'.
Last week at CinemaCon, James Cameron announces Avatar 5, which bumps his sequels up from three to four. He also announced new release dates for all of the movies. Production is already underway on these highly-anticipated sci-fi adventures. And the filmmaker makes the claim that it will be the most challenging thing he's ever done in his life. He says this about shooting them all concurrently.
"It's not back-to-back. It's really all one big production. It's more the way you would shoot a miniseries. So we'll be shooting across all [AVATAR scripts] simultaneously. So Monday I might be doing a scene from Movie Four, and Tuesday I'm doing a scene from Movie One. ... We're working across, essentially, eight hours of story. It's going to be a big challenge to keep it all fixed in our minds, exactly where we are, across that story arc at any given point. It's going to be probably the most challenging thing I've ever done. I'm sure the actors will be challenged by that as well. It's like, 'No, no, no, no, this person hasn't died yet, so you're still in this phase of your life.' It's a saga. It's like doing all three Godfather films at the same time."
This time around, there won't be as much green screen and CGI VFX. James Cameron does plan to shoot some of the movie in the real world. He offers new insight into this process, and describes how the shoot is different from his earlier days. He uses the Alien Queen in 1986's seminal classic Aliens as an example.
"If I could do the Alien Queen today with the techniques we used on Avatar, she'd be spectacular. She'd be much more dynamic. Now, where I would struggle is to make her as texturally real. But that's all doable now. ... On the new Avatar films, I'm actually going to shoot more real-world stuff. It may only be there as an example from which we then generate CG, or we may actually integrate some of those photographic elements. But I want more photography. ... Like, if I was doing the Alien Queen, I would want photography to show the exact way that the slime drools off the curl of a lip and caught the light in a certain type of very low-key lighting. I would want to see that so that I can talk to the CG artist and say, 'All right. Do that.' ... It always usually boils down to the lighting and the conception of the shot."
The Avatar movies have all been given new release dates. With Avatar 2 delayed until Christmas 2018. Avatar 3 will arrive two years later in December of 2020. It was originally set to come only a year after Avatar 2. Avatar 4 will follow a similar pattern, hitting screens in 2022. There will only be a one year gap between it and the just announced Avatar 5, which hits in 2023. The reason for the schedule shake-up all has to do with Star Wars. James Cameron explains.
"My original plan was to release them a year apart, but we're opening that up. If for no other reason than that I don't want to land on the same date as one of the Star Wars sequels. That wouldn't be fair to them. [Laughs] No, that's just good business. I don't want to go head-to-head with Star Wars. That would be stupid. And hopefully they won't want to go head to head with us."
The original Avatar was released in 2009. It earned an amazing $2.8 billion worldwide to become the highest grossing movie of all time. The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three Oscars: Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction. No official plot details have been release for any of the upcoming sequels.