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'Avatar 2' Won't Arrive Until 2015 Or Possibly Even Later, 'Avatar 4' Reports Are Premature But Not Entirely Ruled Out

by Edward Davis
July 28, 2012 4:28 PM
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The road to Pandora was never a short one. After announcing "Avatar" formally in the summer of 2005 (then known as "Project 880"), though publicly talking about its arrival as far back as the early aughts, James Cameron's ambitious 3D sci-fi fantasy picture finally landed in theaters at the end of 2009 (an 80-page treatment was written in 1994). It was the film's second "final" release date after initially being expected in May of 2009, and it was Cameron's first feature-length directorial effort in over a decade. But the prolonged gestation did not stop the juggernaut of a picture, that is still the highest grossing film of all time domestically and globally ($2.78 billion: $600 million higher than the runner-up, Cameron's "Titanic").

And so while two "Avatar" sequels were announced in the fall of 2010, "Avatar 2" coming with a December 2014 date, it appears that Cameron is content to keep moving at his measured pace. The first inkling that the planned schedule was veering off course was earlier this year when "Avatar" producer Jon Landau admitted "Avatar 2" would likely not make its tentatively planned 2014 release date.

And in a lengthy feature profile in the New York Times, Cameron told the newspaper's reporters that the film "will not be ready until 2015 or later." And in reading the article, it feels potentially dubious that they'll even make a 2015 date. Cameron is still evidently working on both screenplays and then has to plot a full-scale move to New Zealand where he and his family expect to live for at least a year and a half, while the filmmaker shoots his sequels (the NYT piece centers on the Pounui Ridge acreage of land that Cameron has already purchased in New Zealand's Wairarapa Valley and how his emigration has possibly already upset the social eco-system without having even started full construction yet).

Perhaps one of the major elements of the sequel "delays," if you can even consider them as such, are the logistics beyond the film's already massive scale. According to Cameron, the "Avatar" sequels will almost certainly be shot in Peter Jackson’s Wellington production studio, about 15 minutes by helicopter from Cameron's Pounui locale (parts of the original "Avatar" were also shot there in addition to VFX work). Visual effects will be completed at Jackson's nearby and heralded Weta Digital visual effects compound, but motion-capture work on the two sequels will still be done on soundstages in California. Exacerbating its difficulties is the fact that "Avatar 2" is said to be mostly set under the oceans of Pandora (will the director try and shoot with 3D cameras and actors in motion-capture suits under water?).

Meanwhile, while Cameron himself teased the possibility of a fourth "Avatar" in speaking with the Times, the reporters state that talk was "premature," but that Cameron "hasn’t ruled it out" either. And those are all the "Avatar" updates Cameron gives. But be sure to read the entire Times' article, if only for the interesting contrast between the directing styles of Peter Jackson and Mr. "King Of The World" Cameron. "You have to understand that we don’t have much experience outside of Peter, who is soft-spoken and gentle,” one senior prop technician said, who asked for anonymity because he hopes to get a job on the “Avatar” sequels. “Jim Cameron sometimes shouted at us, and our instinct was to take it personally.”

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More: James Cameron, Avatar 2, Avatar 4

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  • XVRT | July 29, 2012 7:32 PMReply

    You say "According to Cameron, the "Avatar" sequels will almost certainly be shot in Peter Jackson’s Wellington production studio," then you say: "but motion-capture work on the two sequels will still be done on soundstages in California." I read the article and I think it's the latter

  • Mark | July 29, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    Haters seem to mistake 'screenplay' for 'dialogue'. Some of Cameron's dialogue is weak and on the nose, but has anyone seen The Dark Knight Rises yet? You don't hear them attacking Nolan for this, especially when most of the dialogue in his films are just statements aimed at people instead of conversations. Cameron is a master screenplay writer, anyone who doubts this needs to get their hands on the scripts books of Strange Days and Terminator 2 FAST.

  • Wash | July 28, 2012 8:55 PMReply

    I'm not into this Avatar stuff, but you can't argue with Cameron's success. If he wants to spend the next 10 years diving to the bottom of the ocean and making movies about blue aliens, I say we stay out of his way.

  • Wash | July 29, 2012 1:40 PM

    Stevo, I don't get the "shovel as much of it down audiences throats". He made a movie, and according to the box office receipts, a ton of people went to see it. And according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences, it had made some impressive technical accomplishments. And according to Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of critics liked it. Why would making a sequel count as "shovel(ing) as much of it down audiences throats."? Admittedly, I didn't like the film, but doesn't the money, technical recognition and critic approval warrant more Avatar? For those of us who don't dig Avatar, we can easily, ya know, not go see it... and our throats will remain un-shoveled.

  • Stevo the Magnificent | July 29, 2012 12:47 AM

    How about he stays under the ocean, would YOU want Cameron as a neighbor?

    'Avatar' was visually stunning, no mistake, but the script was leaden, cliche-ridden, and outright environmentalist agit-prop at it's worst, with an alien race so irritating, I wished Jar Jar Binks would make a cameo just to liven things up... and I'm not kidding there! Cameron is seemingly going down the George Lucas and Wachowski siblings route; drunk and intoxicated on the success of his new franchise, and determined to shovel as much of it down audiences throats before we all barf and cry "enough already"... that and the fact that 'Avatar' wasn't nearly as good or as emotionally resonant as either 'Star Wars' or 'The Matrix'...!

  • AS | July 28, 2012 4:42 PMReply

    How about a release date of NEVER?

  • AS | July 28, 2012 10:28 PM

    Oh it's not a backlash, trust me. If you take away all of the CGI, what do you have? A god awful screenplay and some piss poor supporting performances. If you can deny that, you can deny anything. Actually, as I've gone back and taken a second look at some of Cameron's output, it's surprisingly weak. For example, I recently watched Roy Ward Baker's A Night to Remember (1958) and immediately realized that Cameron's Titanic was a total remake of that film, which would be fine, but nowhere in the credits does Cameron credit the film. The film is exactly the same, blow for blow. Cameron even lifted entire characters from that film. But the film is never credited. A Night to Remember is 2 hrs where as Titanic is 3. ANTR opens right as the ship hits the iceberg. So the only thing Cameron brought to the material was the cheesy and cliched romance between DiCaprio and Winslet. Apart from his CG team, Cameron is a total hack. Oh, and when did box office = quality? If that were true, Michael Bay would be this generations Stanley Kubrick...

  • Chase | July 28, 2012 8:33 PM

    It's like whenever a new Batman movies comes out. "Oh, Heath Ledger's the wrong choice. Oh, Anne Hathaway's the wrong choice." And guess what? Proven wrong. Everytime. Same with Cameron. Directors who always get the most premature backlash (like Cameron) always dominate when their films are released. Both his films are the top two highest grossing films off all-time domestically. Cut him a break.

  • Rebecca | July 28, 2012 6:11 PM

    Re: Christian

    I don't get it either, nor do I care. I was one of the fangirls for Avatar when everyone was saying it would bomb before it came out. It's just the same cycle all over again.

  • Christian | July 28, 2012 4:54 PM

    Well, I'm incredibly excited about Cameron returning to that universe. Still don't get the Internet backlash against Avatar, I really, really don't.

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