By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 4, 2012 at 9:55AM
How do you follow the biggest movie of all time? Well, you make a sequel, dummy. Unlike his previous mega-hit "Titanic," which was crippled, follow-up wise, by the boat sinking and most of the characters dying (not that it's stopped this week's 3D re-release, of course), James Cameron was only getting started with "Avatar:" most of the lead characters remain alive and well (bar Sigourney Weaver's, but it looks like she'll be back regardless), and the world of Pandora has only just had its surface scratched. And not long after the release of the first film, Cameron confirmed that his next directorial project would be to make "Avatar 2" and "Avatar 3" back to back, with releases tentatively planned for 2014 and 2015.
But with Cameron busy exploring the deepest part of the oceans (and making a 3D documentary about it), it looks like earlier reports of a delay in the plan are true. Empire spoke to Cameron's producer Jon Landau ahead of this week's release of "Titanic 3D," and he admitted that the 2014 possibility for the first sequel was a little optimistic. "We're not really naming dates," Landau told the site," but I think 2014 will be a tough date for us to make. For us, it's about getting it right. "Titanic" was meant to be a summer movie. "Avatar" was meant to be 2008, then it was 2009. Movies make release dates, release dates don't make movies."
An admirable position, and one that's fairly expected, given the huge workload that goes into the performance-capture process, and Cameron's perfectionism: the director's certainly one of the few who are able to dictate their own releases. Assuming the film's now aiming for 2015, that would mean "Avatar 3" wouldn't hit theaters until at last 2016. That being said, work is underway on the project, according to Landau: "We've started already. WETA are already working and we have our core team... we're working on underwater performance-capture."
The idea that much of the film will be set under the seas of Pandora has been widely reported, handily combining Cameron's two passions, but Landau also confirms that undersea action won't dominate the sequel. "It's going to be like the Floating Mountains in the first movie. It's not going to be all underwater; it's going to be a place we go to, leave and come back to." We're sure some eye-boggling creatures are already being designed. All being well, it sounds like "Avatar 2" and "Avatar 3" will hit sometime in the next 3-5 years.