What's Next for Avatar and James Cameron: Sequels & More!
Now that James Cameron's Avatar has been out in theaters for nearly a week, it's time to look at what's next for James Cameron. And what's next for Avatar. What will we see in sequels? What will Cameron direct next? Back when Iron Man came out in '08, I wrote up a similar article looking at what's next. I loved that movie so much when I saw it that I was already anxious to see the sequel, so I pulled together some quotes and ideas and wrote up "The Future of Iron Man" (we even mentioned War Machine). With Avatar, though, there's so much more that everyone wants to hear about after seeing it. Where can they even go in a sequel?
MTV was the first to chat with James Cameron about what's next for the filmmaker. "Cameron's got plans within plans, built on top of plans and ready to spawn new plans. There are a lot of ideas, a lot of potential projects that he could pursue next." He mentions the Battle Angel movie, but MTV's Josh Horowitz says "there's still a ways to go" on Battle Angel and Cameron "wouldn't specify exactly what he's going to move onto next" anyway. So that doesn't sound like it's next. There's also Cameron's underwater drama The Dive that we've heard about before, but haven't seen anything official. What is it even about? Well, here you go:
"It is a love story, the true, tragic tale of a Cuban scuba diver and the woman he falls for."
"[Dive is] quite a modestly budgeted film… This is a film about a three-way relationship. There's a man, a woman, and the ocean and they both have very different relationships with the ocean."
While he could direct The Dive next, that's not confirmed either. The only other project he talks about is the Forbidden Planet remake he was rumored to be attached to. "That's a project that I'm actively involved in, but I haven't made any decisions about it yet." Again, no dice. Maybe we should stick to Avatar? Let's find out what's up next with that, since it could get a sequel soon as well, and it's fresh on everyone's mind.
Avatar is set almost entirely on the planet Pandora, which is one of the moons that orbits a huge gas giant planet called Polyphemus. You might have noticed that there are other moons orbiting that planet and while the planet itself can't sustain life, apparently some of these other moons orbiting it can. The LA Times' Hero Complex hosted a screening of Avatar and asked Cameron about these moons. Here's his quick answer:
"We've mapped out the planet and the sky. [The planet] in Pandora's sky - it's called Polyphemus and it's the primary [planet] for a system of moons, just like in our solar system - Jupiter has 50 some moons, they're still discovering smaller ones all the time. Yea, we have some story ideas for how to branch out into other moons of the Polyphemus and the Alpha Centauri A solar system. But we gotta make some money with this movie first before we think about the sequel!"
Whoa! My first thoughts for a sequel to Avatar were about exploring the planet (or moon) of Pandora and potentially coming across other creatures and tribes and so on. But it sounds like there's not much else out there besides some unobtainium and the Omaticaya. So where can they go? To other planets (or other moons)! According to Wikipedia, Pandora is located in the Alpha Centauri solar system (which we think in real life contains numerous planets), so it sounds like they'd potentially fly around there and land on some of the other planets. I'm sure this unobtainium isn't the only material being mined in the entire Milky Way.
One of the things I originally heard about Avatar (before seeing it) was that it had a universe as beautifully crafted (and potentially expansive) as Star Wars. Obviously that's not the case, since we've only ever seen one planet, and in Star Wars they visit hundreds and hundreds of planets, but in terms of the detail on Pandora itself, they were right about that. And it's that comparison that has continually come up in my mind when thinking about where they could go next and what an Avatar sequel could be about. I do think it's one of the most amazing cinematic worlds that anyone has created from scratch this entire decade (or longer).
This is a spoiler, so watch out if you haven't seen it. Another idea that I absolutely loved in Avatar was the concept of Pandora being a network, a giant brain, that could store memories (it was also their connection to a "mother nature" of sort that seemed sentient). I'm not exactly sure how this could further be explored in sequels, but when it was first explained by Dr. Augustine in the movie, my imagination lit up with all kinds of possibilities. How does it even work? When I think of storage, I think of a harddrive. Is there a way they could view those memories from the past somehow? As we saw at the end of the movie, Eywa obviously understood what Jake Sully was asking and could control all of the non-sentient creatures on the planet.
While you're mulling over those ideas, I'm going to pull a few more quotes from another MTV article, where the video above also comes from. In that article, Cameron confirms that he won't be making a prequel and will continue to focus on the two characters we're already familiar with. "We'll follow Jake and Neytiri," he says. He's got a big idea, actually, that hasn't been revealed yet. "I have a trilogy-scaled arc of story right now, but I haven't really put any serious work into writing a script." And he won't say what it is. But moving forward, Cameron isn't concerned that it's going to take four years or more to make the next one.
"My next goal is to refine the technique, make it easier so it doesn't take as long," Cameron said. "We were doing a lot of pioneering work on 'Avatar.' It wouldn't have taken as long if we already knew exactly how to do it."
So from there, it looks like we're going to have to wait until Cameron reveals what he's doing next or talks about Avatar any more. I'm guessing we won't hear anything about a sequel again until Avatar hits Blu-Ray in 2010. Suffice it to say, though, there are a lot of possibilities for a sequel - like exploring different planets and moons in the same solar system in a trilogy-spanning story arc. You thought this movie was epic, just wait until Cameron shows you what it's like to go between different planets with the Na'vi! Cameron has not only given us so much to work with for a sequel, but he's given us a phenomenal movie on its own as well.
And last but not least, if you really want to geek out, you can actually learn the language of the Na'vi on a new website that launched: LearnNavi.org. It's not an official Fox website, but they've put together guides and dictionaries of the Na'vi language (that contains roughly 1000 words). Yep, Cameron had USC professor Paul Frommer create a real language for the Na'vi to use in Avatar. Head over to that website to learn more.