James Cameron Says 'Avatar' Sequels Aren't Like 'Matrix' Sequels
After James Cameron one-upped his own Titanic and firmly established his spot as the "king of the world" with the box office juggernaut that was Avatar, he's gone on record saying that he'll only be making Avatar films in the foreseeable future (along with the occasional exploration documentary). So what's the hold up? It took him twelve years to fully develop the technology that allowed him to make the first movie, and in a recent interview with the L.A. Times, Cameron revealed that he's taking his time writing the sequel scripts in order to avoid drawing comparisons to the Wachowski siblings' two Matrix sequels. Read on!
Cameron said that he was about to hole up in his "top secret writing cave" in order to finish the scripts for Avatar 2 and 3 before the end of this year, but the writing has been giving him a bit of hesitation.
It’s a little bit of a daunting writing task because it’s two scripts and they’ve both gotta be done at the same time. I’m writing it as separate stories that have an overall arc inclusive of the first film. I don’t want to suffer from the ‘Matrix 2′ problem, where it just ends, like, what the hell? It’s gotta end. There’s gotta be a sense of conclusion, but also a sense that the journey will continue, and that’s a fine line.
A fine line, indeed. I can't think of any project that was preconceived specifically as a back-to-back production in which the second movie doesn't feel like a blatant lead-in to the third film (Pirates 2, anyone?), but Cameron seems steadfast on making sure he doesn't fall prey to that trap with his Avatar films. Since the story for the first Avatar wasn't even close to the best part about that movie, this could prove to be the biggest challenge of the writer/director's career.
Those years working trial and error on the first film were spent without the scrutiny of fans and without the expectation of box office gold, so I'd imagine it was a bit easier than it is now where every decision he makes is covered breathlessly by the media. But those technical innovations weren't perfect, and Cameron is well aware of the tough realities of gearing up for another production.
It was this kludgy prototype the first time. We always knew as we were going along, this isn’t really working, but we’ll fix it for the sequel. The first film just about killed us, and now we’re gonna try to do twice that much.
Pre-production is set to begin in January for the sequels as soon as Cameron finishes the scripts. Avatar 2 likely won't be ready until 2015 at the earliest, and producer Jon Landau recently confirmed that only 2 and 3 will be shot back-to-back. The rumored fourth film, which is said to be a prequel, will probably be at least four or five years down the line, so we'll see if Cameron ends up making Battle Angel in between 3 and 4 or if he truly will remain only in the Avatar business.