James Cameron Will Officially Be Directing Avatar 2 and 3 Next
More very big news today to report on. An official press release from Fox and Lightstorm (via Deadline) has announced/confirmed that James Cameron has agreed to make Avatar 2 and 3 as his next films. He was apparently considering directing that Cleopatra movie with Angelina Jolie at Sony, but Deadline says "Fox made a 'huge' donation to his environmental green fund, and in return he committed to making the Avatar sequel… That also caused him to withdraw from Sony Pictures' Cleopatra." Fox is targeting December 2014 and 2015 release dates for the two back-to-back sequels, but hasn't set anything in stone. Ready to go back?
Here's James Cameron's rather beefy official statement that touches on improving the story in these sequels:
"It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a filmmaker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company. AVATAR was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world. With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience's expectations for the richness of AVATAR's visual world and the power of the storytelling. In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of AVATAR’s visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world. I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild."
Cameron, who had always viewed Avatar as the creation of a new world and mythology, will begin work on the scripts early next year with an eye towards commencing production later in 2011. Cameron will decide if he will shoot the films back-to-back after he completes the script, despite Fox setting 2014 and 2015 release dates (which would mean he has to shoot them back-to-back if they keep those dates). "With the first movie, Jim only scratched the surface of the stories he wants to tell and the creatures and world he wants to create. Now we will continue his vision," producer Jon Landau said. We can also certainly assume that most of the original cast, including Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, will be returning.
In updates earlier this year, Cameron revealed that Avatar 2 will be going into the oceans of Pandora, and eventually expanding to other moons in the solar system. "Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment – a different setting within Pandora. And I'm going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won't be a rain forest," he said. "We expand out across [the Alpha Centauri AB] system and incorporate more into the story – not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film." I watched Avatar again at its 3D re-release in the summer and you know what, I'm excited for a sequel, I have faith in James Cameron, I say bring it on!